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Forth Bridge Could Reopen in January

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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After closing the Forth Bridge over concerns about structural steel damage, the company that has been managing the bridge since earlier this year said it may have found a solution to solve the problem.

Engineers with Amey, a U.K.-based infrastructure support service provider, said work was on track to repair the problem with the Scottish bridge by Jan. 4, according to a Monday (Dec. 14) news report from the BBC. Although the work is weather-dependent, the company said the work was “on track.”

“The priority right now, should be to reopen that bridge, mitigate the impact on the community as I’m doing and focus on that and I won’t have the engineers distracted by the party games that Labour wishes to play,” Transport Minister Derek Mackay told The Courier on Monday. “I’ve mobilized every resource to get that bridge opened as quickly as possible and that’s what the community wants.”

Who’s Responsible?

Britain’s Labour party and the Scottish National Party (SNP) have been at odds over the cause of the fracture in the steel since the bridge closed on Dec. 3, the newspaper said. As previously reported, Amey took over management of the bridge in June, but the newspaper reports that orders restricting heavy loads came out as early as February.

A 2 centimeter (about ¾ inch) crack was found on that tower during the last week of November, previous reports said.

Reports earlier this year revealed that former chief engineer Barry Colford ordered restrictions on the passage of vehicles weighing more than 150 tons after analysis of the loading on the bridge’s truss end links, the newspaper said.

Some had argued that the bridge might never open again, earlier reports indicated. A new bridge—the Queensferry Crossing—is expected to open across the Firth of Forth and help some of the flow of traffic on the heavily used bridge. Crews from the bridge have been helping with repairs, the BBC said.

Temporary Fix

But the engineers in charge of the older bridge’s maintenance say they have come up with a temporary fix to solve the structural steel problem.

According to the BBC, those engineers from Amey are performing a “plate welded repair” around the broken bridge truss, which involves using metal splints attached to both sides of the truss.

However, with winds approaching 35 miles per hour, the exact deadline for reopening the bridge remains uncertain, an Amey spokesman told the BBC. The work is expected to cost £2m (about US$3 million) to complete, the news agency said.

More Repairs to Come

In addition to making the truss repairs, engineers are going to perform the same repair at seven other similar locations to prevent other issues from occuring, according to ForthRoadBridge.org.

The company also will do other maintenance tasks, including line painting and decking work, which means the bridge will have to be closed at some point in the future, the BBC reported.

Previous reports indicate that about 70,000 vehicles use the bridge every day. The day the bridge closed, reports indicated that the area experienced 11-hour backups.

Meanwhile, in the political battle over why the earlier report did not close the bridge, Transport Scotland said those reports only discussed abnormal loads and were not related to the current bridge issues. Despite political arguments, the current issues were discovered only in the past few weeks, the BBC reported. 

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Europe; Government; Quality Control; Roads/Highways; Steel; Structural steel

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