Work on site to replace the main expansion joints on the Forth Road Bridge will commence on Monday 12 November.
This major project will see all of the bridge’s main expansion joints replaced over the course of the next twelve months, starting with joints in the east footpath.
The east footpath will be closed to the public from Monday 12 November until late January 2019, with pedestrians and cyclists directed to use the west footpath instead.
Work on the much larger joints in the main carriageways is expected to begin in late January. Traffic on the bridge will be restricted to a single lane in each direction for most of 2019 while work on the carriageways is in progress. Joints in the west footpath will be replaced once work on the carriageways is complete.
Journey times for vehicles using the public transport corridor over the Forth Road Bridge will not be affected by these works, and no diversions will be required.
The Forth Road Bridge’s main expansion joints were originally scheduled to be replaced in 2009, in what would have been by far the most disruptive maintenance project in the bridge’s history, despite plans to maximise traffic flow by building temporary overbridges across the joints. HGVs would have had to divert to Kincardine for the duration of the works, and traffic on the bridge would have been reduced to a single lane in each direction while the overbridges were constructed and dismantled.
In December 2008 the Forth Estuary Transport Authority took the opportunity to postpone the works when the Scottish Government confirmed its timetable for construction of the Queensferry Crossing. Failsafe devices were installed for safety, along with improved maintenance access to allow an enhanced regime of monitoring and inspection to be implemented until the joints could eventually be replaced.
The works will now cost £5.9 million – less than half the £13.7 million cost when these works were originally tendered in 2008. This saving is largely attributable to the Queensferry Crossing being available to carry traffic, meaning expensive overbridging works are no longer required.
Contractor American Bridge International has been appointed to carry out the works, with Forth Bridges operating company Amey managing and supervising the project on behalf of Transport Scotland.
Mark Arndt, Amey’s Account Director for the Forth Bridges Unit, said:
“The main expansion joints have exceeded their design life and are overdue for replacement, however we’ve been monitoring them closely over the years to ensure the continuing safety of bridge users and we’re now ready to replace them without any disruption to traffic.
“The Queensferry Crossing has already delivered a major benefit by sparing the public the immense disruption that would have been caused if these works had gone ahead in 2009. It will also allow us to deliver these works at a significantly reduced cost, and avoid the economic impact of an extended closure to HGVs such as we saw during the emergency repairs of winter 2015-16, when the Road Haulage Association estimated the cost to the industry at over £600,000 per day.
“The new joints have been manufactured in Ayrshire and Sheffield, using a similar overall design to the originals, but with improved materials and enhanced details. The team has been planning and preparing for this project for a number of years and we’re looking forward to starting work on site.”
*Photograph shows one of the main expansion joints on the Forth Road Bridge being inspected in 2009.