The Forth Road Bridge will be shut for the rest of this year for repairs, Transport Scotland has announced.
The decision follows the discovery of defective steelwork earlier this week, and was made after a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee.
Forth Road Bridge operator Amey is working around the clock to assess damage and design repairs but it has been ruled too dangerous to allow traffic to use the crossing.
Forth Bridge inspection
Amey account director for the bridge – and chartered engineer – Mark Arndt said: “This is a complex engineering challenge. The component failure is in a difficult-to-access location and our response is also highly dependent on weather conditions.
“We continue to work around the clock on inspections, assessments and calculations along with the development of designs to effect the necessary repairs, while at the same time mobilising all the resources required to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.”
Transport minister Derek Mackay said the decision to close the crossing, which spans the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, had not been taken lightly.
“It is based on the expert opinion of the engineers who operate the bridge day to day, and that of independent experts in the field,” he said.
“Every effort is being made to open the bridge as quickly as possible but safety is the main priority. These works are weather dependent given the height and location of the bridge.
“We are aware of the potential economic impact, for strategic traffic in the east of Scotland and on people living in local communities.
“This is an unprecedented challenge in the maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge. On balance following advice from engineers and independent experts, the full closure is essential for the safety of the travelling public and to prevent further damage to the structure of the bridge.
“The bridge operators Amey have a robust inspection team is in place and these defects are problems that have only occurred in the last number of weeks.
“We are taking every step we can to lessen the impact of this closure. Action now will mean that any closure is much shorter than it might be if we waited. We continue to work closely with all partners to co-ordinate our efforts to lessen the impact of this closure. Additional bus and rail services are being provided between Fife and Edinburgh. Every effort and resource available is being deployed to repair the damage to the Forth Road Bridge and minimise the disruption to the public.”