The operators of the Forth Road Bridge today ordered a review of the planned project to replace the bridge’s main expansion joints, in light of increased costs and the Scottish Government’s confirmation that a new Forth crossing will be in place by 2016.
Bridge engineers are to examine ways in which the work could be safely delayed until the new crossing opens to traffic in 2016. Replacement of the joints could then be carried out at a significantly reduced cost.
FETA Chief Engineer & Bridgemaster Barry Colford explained: "It may be feasible to design temporary measures that will allow traffic to continue to safely use the current joints until 2016. The joints would then be replaced when the new bridge opened, removing the need to spend £6M on mini-bridges to keep the traffic flowing.
"These joints have reached the end of their service life and do need to be replaced. However, contractors’ bids have come in considerably higher than estimated and we now have a firm timetable for construction of the new bridge.
"In light of these developments, it makes sense to re-examine the project to see if we can delay the work while ensuring the bridge remains safe and open to traffic. If this can be achieved we will minimise both the cost to the taxpayer and the disruption caused to traffic.
"We will review the options immediately with a view to making a decision early in the new year."
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering were named as preferred bidders for the works in October this year. However, their tender of £13.7M was £5M more than the budgeted figure.
Balfour Beatty’s tender included £6M for the provision of "mini-bridges" to lift traffic up and over the joints while replacement work continued underneath.