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Forth expansion joint replacement faces delay

Balfour Beatty could lose its role as preferred contractor to replace expansion joints on the Forth Road Bridge after a review of the project concluded that the scheme can be delayed until 2016.

A decision is expected on Friday when the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) meets to discuss the review.

Delaying the work would save £6M in traffic management and other costs that would have been incurred had the replacement of the bridge's main expansion joints taken place while the bridge was in operation.

The new Forth Crossing is due to come into service in 2016. When it opens, the existing bridge can be closed for the joint replacement work.

The joints are the oldest and largest of their kind in Europe, and had been scheduled for replacement in 2010.

But FETA ordered a review of the project because tender costs were higher than expected and because the Scottish government had announced that a new Forth crossing will be in place by 2016.

The cost of the temporary failsafe devices and the additional inspection and monitoring work has been estimated at between £150,000 and £250,000 in total over the period 2009 to 2016.
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering was named preferred bidder for the works in October last year.

However, its tender of £13.7M was £5M more than the budgeted figure.

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