FTA members call for recompense over further bridge delay

Thursday 04 February 2016

Freight Transport Association (FTA) members are calling for recompense from the Government following news that the Forth Road Bridge won’t reopen to HGVs until mid-March – a month later than planned.

FTA says it’s another blow for operators who have already suffered huge financial losses due to the bridge closure. One member revealed costs to his business would total a quarter of a million pounds if it stays shut for an additional four weeks.

The bridge has been undergoing strengthening work since 3 December and reopened to cars and buses just before Christmas. Transport Scotland said HGVs and vehicles weighing more than 7.5 tonnes GVW would have to use an alternative route until mid-February but this has now been extended to mid-March, with a ‘phased’ overnight northbound opening to these vehicles from 11pm-4am from tonight.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, said: “Partial reopening of the bridge is better than none at all, but there will be planning and cost implications for operators of this second movement of reopening date.
“We need the bridge open to all traffic as soon as possible. The European Commission’s extension to the relaxation of drivers’ hours ends on 15 February so we’ll be calling for a further extension to help logistics operators cope with the 50-mile detour.”

As well as the original repairs, engineers have identified preventative measures to two other steel pins that must be completed before the bridge can fully reopen – and Transport Scotland says work has been hampered by the high winds and wet weather.

The ‘phased’ overnight reopening will be northbound only and trucks will be held in a stacking area to cross at a rate of one every 30 seconds under a traffic light management system. Live monitoring equipment will assess the impact on the bridge structure and the rate will be adjusted accordingly.

Transport Scotland said the bridge would reopen with no restrictions once all the work was completed, but Mr MacRae said FTA members would be looking for recompense from the Government because of huge financial losses they had already suffered.

He said: “Some FTA members are losing thousands of pounds every day and this further delay will have a devastating effect on their businesses. Perhaps the bridge should have been closed for longer to all traffic to get the repairs done more quickly – repeatedly extending the closure to HGVs is playing havoc with our members’ planning.”
FTA Press Office
01892 552255