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Forth Road Bridge closure cost taxpayers £16 million

Forth Road Bridge (David Cheskin/PA Wire)
Forth Road Bridge (David Cheskin/PA Wire)

THE taxpayer has been landed with a £16 million bill for the shock closure of the Forth Road Bridge.

Commuters were reeling when the bridge closed in the run-up to Christmas, 2015, after a crack was found in a steel support.

Using Freedom Of Information (FOI) laws, The Sunday Post has established the final bill for the repairs and disruption caused by last year’s closure came to £9.2m.

However, the fix put in place by engineers was only temporary and bridge bosses have now revealed the full replacement will cost a further £6.5m.

Alex Rowley, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, said: “The decision by the SNP to cut to the original budget for short-term gain has cost the taxpayer a lot more in the long term.

“Thousands of people were very much out of pocket having to find alternatives ways of getting to and from work.

“So, all in all, a costly decision to cut the original budget.”

Details released by Transport Scotland under FOI laws show the bridge’s “emergency and remedial costs” came to a total of £7.7m.

However, latest accounts show the final bill was £9.2m once the repairs and additional bus, travel planning and traffic management costs are factored in.

Around £4m went on technical and professional services provided by engineers, while a further £2.5m went on materials and labour.

Transport Scotland has recently advertised for a main contractor to replace seven truss end links with a new sliding bearing arrangement. The project has been advertised as being worth £6.5m – plus VAT.

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “My constituents need confidence that this money will be spent effectively to ensure we don’t face similar disruption.”

The Forth Road Bridge was closed to all traffic on December 4, 2015, after a crack was discovered in a truss end link under the carriageway.

The bridge then reopened to all vehicles except HGVs on December 23 before opening to all vehicles again on February 20.

A Holyrood inquiry heard from former bridge engineer Barry Colford who told MSPs he wanted to replace the truss, but “did not have the funding”.

And MSPs ruled work on the component which eventually failed was put off as a “direct consequence” of the Scottish Government cutting funding grants.

However, the SNP-majority infrastructure committee concluded the fault which caused it could not have been foreseen.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The closure presented an unprecedented, unforeseen challenge.

“Given the magnitude of disruption to travel for the public, costs to the Scottish economy it caused, it was vitally important to ensure repair work was carried out as safely, quickly, and efficiently as possible.”