Ongoing painting and restoration of the Forth Rail Bridge will finish in 2012, Network Rail confirmed yesterday.
The announcement explodes the popular myth that the painting of the 120-year old structure is a job that never ends.
Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said: "The Forth Bridge is a working monument to the genius of British railway engineering. The work currently being undertaken will restore the bridge to its original condition and preserve the steel-work for decades to come.
"The restoration work has been ongoing since 2002 but, due to years of underinvestment during the 70s and 80s, the scale of the job was initially unclear. Only now are we in the position to name a completion date of 2012."
Contractor Balfour Beatty, responsible for the restoration work since 2002, won the £74M contract to complete the job.
Over the next four years paint will be removed by abrasive blasting. Steelwork requiring maintenance will then be repaired before it is coated with three layers with a glass flake epoxy paint.
Designed to last for at least 20 years, Network Rail anticipates that the paint could protect the bridge for as many as 30 years.
Previously, painting of the 2.5km long structure was such a frequent occurrence that the phrase "…like painting the Forth Bridge" passed into common usage to describe any task so lengthy that by the time it is finished it must start again.
As well as applying the new paint, Balfour Beatty's contract will see the repair and replacement of walkways, including the installation of new walkways and catwalks to allow for access to the works and to assist in the examination of the bridge.
Balfours will remove a century of accumulated paint, exposing the original steel. Any defects will then be repaired and three layers of paint applied - the final in 'Forth Bridge' red.