Buses, coaches and cars were allowed to use the Forth Road Bridge again from 23rd December following temporary repairs, however HGVs and abnormal loads remain prohibited. HGVs account for 32% of the weight the bridge normally carries despite making up approx 9% of overall traffic.
A steel splint has been installed to repair the cracked section of the bridge. Splints continue to be fitted at another seven truss end links as a precautionary measure. This work can be safely completed with the bridge open and overnight lane restrictions. The bridge should reopen to HGVs in mid-February.
Stagecoach bus and coach services in Scotland were to return to normal following the reopening of the bridge. As part of the Scottish Government’s travel plan during the closure, the operator provided 33 extra buses to help keep people moving as buses were given priority to use the Kincardine Bridge. Stagecoach’s Regional Director for Scotland, Sam Greer, said, ‘It has been a challenging time for all affected road users and it is very good news that the bridge is to re-open sooner than first anticipated. We are pleased to have been able to play our part in keeping people moving by working with the Scottish Government to provide a large number of extra buses, and reduced fares, to encourage people to use public transport and reduce congestion on the surrounding roads.’ The reduced fares will continue into the new year as a thank you to customers.
Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, said, ‘I am pleased that we are now able to reopen the bridge to 90% of traffic, well ahead of schedule. This has been an unprecedented challenge. We can’t lose sight of the fact that many people have been inconvenienced by the closure. While that is deeply regrettable, I would like to thank the transport operators who pulled out all of the stops to put on extra services.
Editor’s note: We don’t very often say this but I reckon the Scottish Government has handled this tricky problem very well.