Scotland politics

Forth Road Bridge fault 'was not predictable'

Forth Road Bridge Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bridge reopened to traffic almost two weeks ahead of schedule

The fault which led to the closure of the Forth Road Bridge could not have been reasonably foreseen, experts have told MSPs.

Holyrood's Infrastructure Committee has heard a seized pin caused the crack which led to the shutdown of the bridge for almost three weeks in December.

MSPs heard that the response to the fault by the bridge's operator was "entirely appropriate".

And efforts to repair and reopen the bridge were described as "remarkable".

The bridge reopened to all vehicles except HGVs on 23 December - almost two weeks ahead of schedule.

The committee took evidence from experts who have managed other bridges around the UK as it continued its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the closure.

'Subsequent actions'

Peter Hill, bridgemaster of the Humber Bridge, said: "I can only say, knowing the competencies of the team under Barry Colford (former Forth Road Bridge bridgemaster), I can't see that this incident could have been otherwise determined or pre-warned in any other practical way.

"As to the subsequent actions of the team that are now looking after the bridge and reacting to this emergency, it seems to have been entirely appropriate."

Richard Fish, an independent engineering consultant, said the cause of the fault would have been very difficult to predict.

And he said he would not question the decision to close the bridge, which he said had to be governed by public safety.

John Evans, a consultant for civil and structural engineering firm Flint and Neill, described the efforts to reopen the bridge as a "remarkable achievement".

He added: "I don't think you would have foreseen what the particular failure was, but the idea of having contingency measures in place for when something catastrophic happens might be looked at in the future."

Mr Evans said such measures could include pre-planned diversion routes.