Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Forth Road Bridge reopens after lorry blown over

Media captionA crane finally managed to return the lorry to an upright position

The Forth Road Bridge has reopened after the recovery of a lorry which was blown over in high winds.

The bridge operators said all restrictions on traffic were lifted at about 21:00.

The lorry was blown from the northbound carriageway onto the southbound side at about 02:00 on Wednesday.

The bridge was officially closed to HGVs at the time. A 54-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving.

Bridge operator Amey said the damage to a 40m section of central grille barrier had been serious and the bridge had been expected to remain closed overnight.

Welders, however, completed repairs sooner than expected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "My thanks to those who have worked hard all day, in tough conditions, to get @forthroadbridge open tonight - and to the public for patience."

Image copyright Forth Road Bridge
Image copyright PA

The lorry was earlier hauled upright by a crane after being disentangled from the barrier.

It was removed from the north end of the bridge shortly before 16:30 following delays to the recovery operation caused by strong gusts of wind.

Image copyright Traffic Scotland
Image caption The lorry was returned to an upright position by a crane which had been brought in for the rescue operation
Image copyright Traffic Scotland

Transport minister Humza Yousaf praised bridge staff but said the lorry crash was "a very serious incident" that showed the consequences of ignoring travel advice during severe weather.

He said: "Once again, the Forth Road Bridge team has stepped up to repair the bridge. They have successfully removed the overturned HGV and carried out temporary repair work to the damaged central reserve safety grille on the bridge.

"I would like to pay tribute to the engineers and workers who have faced up to some very challenging and difficult weather conditions throughout the day, to complete the work and get the bridge reopened as quickly and as safely as possible.

"The bridge is now open in both directions for traffic, subject to any restrictions the weather may bring, in line with the forecast.

"The closure of the bridge was the result of an HGV driver ignoring travel advice and restrictions for high sided vehicles using the bridge during a period of severe weather warnings.

"Thankfully no one was hurt in this incident, but a great deal of disruption has been caused."

Image copyright Forth Road Bridge
Image caption Welding teams worked to repair 40m of damage to the central grille after the lorry was removed

Mark Arndt, from Amey, said: "It's been a challenging day but our team has put in a tremendous amount of effort to get the HGV off the bridge and complete the repair work while battling with strong winds, rain and sleet.

"We're pleased that the bridge has now been reopened but we are mindful that with adverse weather forecast for the coming days, there may be further restrictions.

"We'd urge drivers to check our website or the Traffic Scotland Twitter feed for up-to-date travel information before they start their journey."

Image copyright Forth Road Bridge
Image caption Major damage was caused to the central grille barrier

A spokesman for the haulage company, Dumfries-based Currie European, said its first concern was for the welfare of the driver, who appeared to be "OK".

The company said it would make no further comment at this stage in light of the ongoing investigation.

Image caption No traffic was moving on the bridge on what would normally have a busy weekday

The closure caused widespread disruption on one of Scotland's main traffic routes.

Andrea McKinnon was stuck in traffic on a bus near the Kincardine Bridge at 10:00 - three hours after setting off from Kirkcaldy to get to work in Glasgow.

She told BBC Scotland's John Beattie programme the traffic was moving for a minute at a time before coming to a standstill again for about 20 minutes.

"It is normally a bit of a trek but today it is a profound trek," she said.

"There is still horrendous traffic trying to get over the Kincardine Bridge.

"I have honestly no idea when I am going to get to Glasgow because right now over the bridge it is at a standstill."

Jenny Ansett turned back for home in Dunfermline in Fife after hitting traffic as she headed for the Forth Road Bridge.

She told John Beattie it took her 28 minutes to drive a mile-and-a-half.

She said: "I work in a university and I've inconvenienced a number of colleagues today because of this.

"But I'm not saving lives - it's not like I'm doing open-heart surgery or flying planes or things like that.

"Every time this happens it seems bonkers that great swathes of central Scotland grind to a halt because of one road. So we can only hope when this new bridge opens it will be a bit of an improvement.

"I think the problem is we all rely on the roads too much and the public transport options just aren't up to it when these things happen."

Drivers have been warned to expect more disruption to journeys as wintry showers develop over much of Scotland into Thursday.

Strong winds and snow are expected to last through much of the day with a further warning for snow valid until late on Friday.

The Met Office has issued several yellow Be Aware warnings and said the combination of wintry showers and strong winds could lead to difficult travel conditions. There is also a risk of snow drifts on higher routes on Thursday and Friday.

Lightning may also accompany the heavier showers, with potential disruption to power supplies.

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