SCOTLAND HAS started on plans to replace the Forth Road Bridge, which faces closure following the discovery of suspension cable corrosion, the Scottish Executive said last week.
Design of the new bridge must start immediately so the new bridge can be ready before the old one has to close, said Scottish transport minister Tavish Scott.
'The most optimistic timeframe for replacing the crossing is around 2014, if work starts now, ' said Scott.
Executive agency Transport Scotland will carry out the feasibility study, he added.
Engineers discovered severe corrosion on some of the wires in the 4km long suspension cables supporting the existing bridge in 2003 (NCE 11 December 2003).
An investigation carried out by consultant Faber Maunsell for bridge owner Forth Estuary Transport Authority revealed that the bridge would have to close to lorries by 2013 and to all traffic by 2019 unless cable corrosion was curbed.
Scott said: 'Starting preparatory work now does not commit us to constructing a new crossing. But - given the evidence - it is essential to start preparations in case we need to replace the bridge. This ensures that if we need a new crossing, we have not lost time waiting for the results of relevant studies.'