Full reopening of Forth Road Bridge delayed by month for HGVs
The full reopening of the Forth Road Bridge has been delayed by a month.
However, a phased re-introduction of lorries has begun. The trial will allow 600 HGVs to cross northbound between 23:00 and 04:00 each night, subject to weather conditions.
It was thought the bridge would fully reopen in mid-February but officials have now said it will be mid-March.
The Road Haulage Association has called for compensation from the Scottish government.
Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes have been banned from the bridge while damaged steel work is repaired.
The bridge was closed to all vehicles for almost three weeks but reopened to cars on 23 December.
Martin Reid, Road Haulage Association's director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "We are really disappointed that the bridge won't reopen in the timescale originally given to us, we seem to be the only industry that is bearing the brunt on this.
"And while we understand the circumstances, nobody can control the weather.
"We would call upon the Scottish government for some kind of compensation package because this will be a quarter of the year now."
He added that he welcomed the trial and said it was good that some vehicles would be able to use the bridge overnight.
However, he said this would not always work. He said that if early morning deliveries have to be made, there has to be someone at the other end to receive them, which might not be the case if it is during the night.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: "This is a phased reintroduction of HGVs to the Forth Road Bridge which aims to provide access to the bridge at the earliest available opportunity.
"Allowing limited access to the bridge when traffic is lighter will hopefully provide some relief to local hauliers while repair work continues.
"90% of traffic returned to the Forth Road Bridge in December and while we recognise that around 600 HGVs crossing the bridge each night does not get us to 100%, it is a step in the right direction - with full reopening expected in mid-March.
"The information from the monitoring equipment is providing a detailed picture of how the bridge is behaving to inform our decision making and modelling.
"We will not take any decision which could risk damaging the bridge or compromising safety, so we have taken the decision to push back the reopening of the bridge to HGVs to allow time for phase two of the repair work to be complete, with additional time added as contingency due to the effects of the weather."
Mark Arndt, Amey's account director for the Forth Road Bridge, said: "During the recent storms, the bridge has been closed to traffic, at times, because wind speeds have been so high and it wouldn't be safe to have people out working in those conditions.
"Our teams are working flat out to complete the work necessary to fully reopen the bridge but our timetable is highly dependent on the weather and our priority has to be on safety."