Engineers aim to open Forth Road Bridge by 4 January

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Crews have been working around the clock to repair structural damage to the bridge

Engineers are working towards having the Forth Road Bridge open to traffic by the first Monday in January, it has been confirmed.

Bridge operator Amey said the date of 4 January was dependent on the weather, but said the work was on track.

MSPs were given the target date at a briefing on progress on repairs.

The bridge has been closed to all traffic since 4 December after a crack was discovered in a truss under the carriageway.

Repairs on the damaged area are now underway, with scaffolding erected around the northeast main tower leg and new steelwork being lifted into place.

Engineers are performing a "plate welded repair" around the broken truss, which will involve metal splints being attached to either side.

Image source, Amey
Image caption,
A temporary fix will involve the shear truss end having metal splints attached to either side

A spokeswoman for Amey said engineers were "working towards" having the bridge open on 4 January, but noted that this was "dependent on weather conditions".

Work on the exposed area cannot be carried out when wind speeds exceed 35mph.

Crews working on the neighbouring Queensferry Crossing have assisted with efforts to erect an elevated working platform around the damaged area.

Amey is also taking preventative action on another seven similar locations on the bridge to prevent issues from arising there, and installing structural monitoring systems.

It is estimated the work will cost around £2m to complete.

Other maintenance is also being carried out while the bridge is closed, including line painting and decking work, which authorities said would reduce the need for future closures and restrictions.

MSPs were updated on progress at a special briefing with Amey and Transport Scotland at the bridge. Concerns have been raised about the impact on local businesses as well as commuters, with an estimated 70,000 vehicles normally crossing the bridge between Edinburgh and Fife daily.

A political row over the state of the bridge and its maintenance has broken out. A Holyrood committee will deliberate the scope of a potential "focused" inquiry on Wednesday.

Image caption,
A scaffold has been erected and new metalwork lifted into place

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