Forth Road Bridge defects could not have been foreseen, committee concludes

Written by Jenni Davidson on 11 March 2016 in News

The Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee has reported that the defect leading to the Forth Road Bridge could not have been predicted

The structural defects that led to the closure of the Forth Road Bridge could not have been foreseen, a Scottish Parliament committee has concluded.

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment (ICI) Committee, heard from a range of expert witnesses in January and February on the causes of the bridge closure, reported its findings today.

The committee also concluded that the Fort Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) decision to reprioritise projects – including work on the truss end link mechanism which failed – following the 2011 spending review was appropriate.


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Committee Convener Jim Eadie MSP said: “The closure of the Forth Road Bridge led to significant disruption and many legitimate questions have been raised about the nature of the structural problem and whether it could have been avoided.

“The committee heard from a number of structural engineers and representatives from FETA and Transport Scotland.

“All of our witnesses were of the view that the defect which caused the closure of the bridge could not have been foreseen.

“As a result we have concluded that the decision by FETA to reprioritise the proposed work on the truss end links was an appropriate course of action on the basis of both the prevailing financial circumstances and the engineering advice available at the time.”

However he said that because they were conscious that the impact on the public and businesses, particularly the haulage industry, was “significant”, the committee would recommend that its successor committee in the next parliamentary session consider exploring the issues further.

In response to the findings, Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “We welcome many aspects of the ICI Committee’s report and will now carefully consider the conclusions and report back to Parliament later this year.

“We particularly agree with the finding that the defect, which led to the bridge being closed, has been recognised as “unforeseen”.

“It is clear the decision to close the bridge was the right thing to do and the efforts in getting the bridge fully quickly reopened were a “remarkable engineering achievement” given the challenging conditions.

“The closure of the bridge was an incident of national significance and we remain grateful for the support of the business sector and local communities who were affected.”

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