Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Forth Road Bridge works fast-tracked

Forth Road Bridge
Image caption Officials said the Forth road Bridge is still 'perfectly safe to use'

Work to replace almost 1,000 heavy duty bolt assemblies on the Forth Road Bridge is to be fast-tracked after more cracked parts were found.

A total of 28 nuts on the bolt assemblies have now been found to have cracked.

It means the bridge authority will negotiate a contract directly with a preferred supplier rather than putting a contract out to tender.

The time saved would allow work to begin before winter this year.

Concerns about the cable band bolt assemblies started in 2007 when bridge inspectors discovered a number of cracked nuts on the bridge's cable bands that hold the vertical hanger ropes to the main suspension cables.

The cracked nuts were replaced and £530,000 was set aside to replace all of the nuts over time.

However, inspections this year have revealed a further 17 cracked nuts, including three cable bands where nuts on two bolts have cracked.

Emergency repairs have been scheduled and the most critical location has already been repaired.

Further replacement of faulty bolt assemblies will be carried out over the next few weeks.

Engineers now say all of the cable band bolt assemblies should be redesigned and replaced.

The cost of redesigning and replacing all of the cable band bolts as well as the nuts has been estimated at £5m.

Transport Scotland will give £4.15m and the remainder will be met from bridge authority, FETA.

Barry Colford, Forth Road Bridge's chief engineer and bridgemaster, said: "Thanks to the diligence of our bridge inspectors we are identifying these cracks soon after they occur and are able to respond quickly to implement any repairs that are required.

"Until we have replaced all of these bolt assemblies, it is quite possible that further emergency repairs will have to be carried out at short notice, requiring weekend traffic restrictions.

"I would stress that the bridge remains perfectly safe to use, the risk that we are trying to prevent is the need for longer term lane closures that would cause unprecedented disruption."

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