Millions of pounds will be spent on giving the Forth Road Bridge its first proper paint job since its construction more than five decades ago, it has emerged.
While a certain other crossing over the estuary is renowned for a paint job that is famously never finished, Transport Scotland has revealed that a trial is being developed to finally paint the Forth Road’s Bridge’s main truss deck in its entirety for the first time since it was finished in 1964.
The work, which has previously been estimated at costing around £65 million, is expected to take more than 10 years to complete, although it appears a team of specialist painters are set to get work on the structure later this year.
Transport Scotland confirmed that the painting programme has been included on a list of tasks to be carried out on the Forth Road Bridge over the coming years in an update to the Scottish Government’s rural economy and connectivity committee
Michelle Rennie, major transport infrastructure projects director at Transport Scotland, explained: “The FRB main truss deck has never been painted since the time of its construction completion in 1964.
“A series of small programmed patch repairs are routinely undertaken by the in-house painting team, however an extensive programme of major painting and steelwork repair and refurbishment works are required to the exposed areas of steel.
“At present, a trial is being developed for implementation in 2018.
“This will then be used to inform the future long-term painting and repair/refurbishment works that may be undertaken over a period of up to 10 years.”
The bridge’s category A-listed status means that bridge chiefs have been left with just one colour option — grey — and the existing pigment will have to be removed before fresh coats are applied.
Painting is not the only work programmed for the Forth Road Bridge though, with an intrusive investigation and inspection of the bridge’s main cables to determine the condition of the internal wires due to get under way in the spring.
After a problem with a truss end link prompted the bridge’s emergency closure in December 2015, a contract to replace the remaining seven truss end links was tendered and awarded last summer and that work is due to be completed by the end of May.
A contract is also expected to be awarded to replace the 53-year-old structure’s main expansion joints this year, with that work due to be completed in 2019, while resurfacing and waterproofing has also been programmed.
The expression “like painting the Forth Bridge” was coined to describe a seemingly never-ending job, although that cliché was finally put to bed in 2011 when Network Rail said painters had finished the work — meaning the structure would not need to be painted again for 25 years.