The Forth Road Bridge To Remain Shut Until 2016
Posted on: 08/12/2015

The Forth Road Bridge which links between Fife and Edinburgh is to be closed until the new year because of structural defects. The 51-year-old bridge will be replaced by the new Queensferry crossing from the end of next year, after years of problems with corrosion in the steel cables, which support the existing suspension bridge’s 13,800-tonne weight.

Mark Arndt, chartered engineer from Amey, described the fault was due to the failure of the ‘inner link support beam to the North east tower truss end link’. A crack of about 20mm in width had appeared in the load-bearing link; if the same had gone on to happen on the other side, the road deck could have fallen by a minimum of 150mm (6 inches).

"Should this have failed and the deck did drop, that poses an immediate safety risk because it could happen very quickly. Shear failures happen very quickly. It is very difficult to predict when they might happen but when they happen it is very quick and very significant. This is the main support below the carriageway at the point where the bridge cables meet the tower." He added.

The steel of the link fractured and became detached from the rest of the load-bearing structure, which was caused by fatigue and over-loading over the course of the bridge’s lifespan. As concerns grew that a similar fault could appear on the other side of the tower support, the firm recommended the bridge should be closed.

The problem was first discovered during a planned routine inspection on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Arndt said work on an interim repair had been ongoing but the structural assessment indicated "significant over-stress at this and other locations as a consequence of this failure".

The bridge was first closed on Thursday to HGVs due to the over-stress on the defective areas. It has now been completely closed, and will remain shut for at least three weeks.

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