Forth Road Bridge chiefs hope to re-open the crossing for tomorrow morning’s rush hour after a juggernaut was blown over in 74mph winds early today.
The bridge has been closed since 2am when the northbound lorry crashed onto the southbound carriageway, in the first such incident of its kind.
The incident damaged around 40m of steelwork in the centre of the bridge, whose repairs may take several days to complete.
Hopes the crossing could be re-opened in time for this evening’s rush hour were dashed.
The official Traffic Scotland information service tweeted: “Current closure of the @forthroadbridge will remain in place through tonight’s PM peak. Please avoid the area.”
The lorry driver, who suffered minor injuries, has been charged after high-sided vehicles were banned from the bridge at the time.
The incident caused ten-mile traffic queues through Fife during the morning rush hour after commuters diverted to the Kincardine and Clackmannanshire bridges.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “[Bridge operators] Amey are hopeful the bridge will be able to reopen in both directions on Thursday morning, but this is heavily dependent on weather conditions.”
However, he warned motorists there would be several further days of disruption while the damage is repaired.
Mr Yousaf said: “This morning we witnessed a very serious incident on the Forth Road Bridge and the consequences of ignoring travel advice during severe weather warnings.
“Luckily, no one was seriously injured.
“However, a great deal of disruption has been caused and it is an extreme but timely reminder of the importance of listening to advice and checking travel bulletins and variable message signs’ messaging before travelling.
“Once again, the engineers and Forth Road Bridge team find themselves in the spotlight and I am hopeful they will be able to get the bridge reopened to traffic as soon as possible, albeit with restrictions in both directions likely.
“They are carrying out very challenging repairs in difficult conditions and the damage to the central reservation is significant.
“We should therefore be prepared for further delays and disruption today.”
Mark Arndt, of Amey, which runs the bridge for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, said: “High winds are continuing to pose a challenge as our crews work flat out to try and remove the HGV from the southbound carriageway and complete the welding repairs needed on the central grillage.
“We will be working through the night and will take advantage of any available improvements in the weather.
“Our primary focus is getting the bridge safely re-opened.”
Southbound traffic is being diverted from the M90 at the Admiralty junction onto the A985 to Kincardine.
Northbound traffic is being diverted off the A90 at Echline along the A904 to join the M9 at Junction 2, or is being turned around to travel to M9 J1a.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “A 54-year-old man has been charged following a collision on the Forth Road Bridge at about 02:00 on Wednesday. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”
The strong winds are expected to last for most of the day with the Met Office issuing several yellow - ‘Be Aware’ - weather warnings for wintry showers and high winds.