Friday, February 19, 2016

Forth Road Bridge to Reopen for Freight Traffic says Road Haulage Association

Transport Scotland Announcement Clears the Way for HGV's
Shipping News Feature
UK – The essential repair works to the Forth Road Bridge are apparently now completed and, according to sources at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Transport Scotland will immediately announce the crossing open to all traffic with effect from 23:00 tomorrow evening, Saturday 20 February. The delays caused to HGVs has meant delays for the road freight carriers who depend on the bridge in a situation which the RHA estimates has cost over £37 million.

Although clearly delighted by the reopening, the RHA did point out that lessons must be learned from the unexpected, and lengthy closure of such a main traffic artery. Throughout the period of closure the RHA says it has worked in constructive partnership with Transport Scotland to ensure that the inevitable, serious impact on the road haulage industry and its customers was kept to a minimum. The decision to create a dedicated truck route was vital in maintaining the business supply chain, not least for vital exports.

One feature of the crisis was essential in softening the blow for operators who rely on the route for their services, and the RHA acknowledged the contribution of the Department for Transport in the speedy and measured relaxation of enforcement of drivers’ hours rules which allowed some leeway as against normal rules. Martin Reid, RHA director for Scotland, said:

“The return to normal tomorrow is a huge relief for all concerned. All too often we take our core road infrastructure for granted and that cannot be allowed to happen in future.”

Editors note: Transport Scotland has now confirmed the bridge will reopen to HGVs as detailed above. The news was given at a press conference where Transport Minister, Derek Mackay said:

"The immediate repair work is in the final stage and no further structural defects have been identified during painstaking investigations by engineers. I know that this is something that will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of drivers who use the bridge on a daily basis, especially the heavy goods vehicle drivers who have had to observe restricted crossing times in the past few weeks.

"I would like to thank them for their patience during this time and stress again that safety and the long-term integrity of the bridge had to be our main considerations. We did all we could to assist the HGV community on an operational level and they have shown great forbearance."