Transport Scotland has confirmed that there will be a five month delay to the expected opening of the new Forth bridge.
Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) now expects the bridge to be open in May 2017, instead of the anticipated date of December 2016. However the revised date is still within the contractors’ contract, which runs until June 2017.
FCBC is a joint venture of Hochtief, Dragados, American Bridge International and Morrison Construction. They say that difficult weather conditions mean they need more time to construct the bridge.
According to the contractors, downtime due to adverse weather, in particular wind, has been 40% compared to an anticipated rate of 25%. Although FCBC thought it could make up time by running work in parallel and increasing resources including 100 more workers, it said that it is now entering a technically complex phase.
FCBC said the construction activities can only be completed sequentially and any more additional resources will not bring the delivery date forward. As the longer cables are installed at a greater height, the project becomes more wind sensitive. This timing has an impact on subsequent activities such as road surfacing and wind barriers, which will now take place during autumn and winter.
“We will continue to work closely with the contractors and I will personally ensure that every pressure and every resource is brought to bear to deliver or even better the revised target date of May 2017,” said Scotland’s cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work Keith Brown.
“Going forward, in order to ensure that this project remains on track, I have implemented enhanced governance procedures from Transport Scotland senior management and will receive twice weekly updates from the project team.
“We have always been ambitious about this project and have always worked towards a deliberately ambitious target. However, it is important to recognise that FCBC still fully expects the project to complete within the timeframe of their contract. This project is not late and there will be no impact on the public purse.
“The December 2016 target date was set to address concerns about the long-term condition of the Forth Road bridge where it was originally believed that it would be restricted as early as 2017. These concerns have proven to be less immediate and the recently installed structural health monitoring system is providing assurance on the ability of the FRB to sustain traffic. However, that hasn’t decreased our determination to complete this once in a generation project at the earliest opportunity.”