Engineers working to fix the Forth Road Bridge say they still hope to be able to reopen the route in the New Year although that timescale is at the mercy of the elements.
Bridge operator Amey’s team of engineers have been working around the clock to develop a solution to a crack on one of the bridge’s truss end links.
Detailed plans to rectify the problem have now been finalised, checked and verified by two independent specialist engineering firms, and welders will begin work as soon as possible.
An access platform which will allow repair works to get under way is being built and it will allow workers to work day and night when weather conditions permit.
Chartered engineer Mark Arndt, Amey’s account director responsible for the bridge, said: “Our teams have been working 24/7 since the defect was identified a little over a week ago.
“Our design teams have finalised the detailed solution plan, the access platform is under construction and we’ve mobilised all the resources we need to begin the repair works.
“Progress of the repair work is vulnerable to weather conditions.
“Wind speeds at times make it unsafe for our people to continue but by having our personnel on standby at the bridge and by monitoring live wind-speed data in our control room we’re able to get straight back out to work on the repairs in every available window and our programme remains on schedule for completion in the New Year.”
In addition to repairing the defect, Amey is taking preventative action on another seven similar locations on the bridge to prevent any issues from occuring and structural monitoring systems are also being installed at these locations.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “Our priority is to get the Forth Road Bridge operating as soon as possible and our engineers are doing all they can to make that possible.
“They are working tirelessly on designs for the repair and are putting the equipment they need in place so that it can be completed in good time.
“It is difficult and technical work and the team is to be commended on its commitment to getting the job completed despite the weather conditions.”
Bridge staff are posting regular updates on social media as they try to keep the public informed of progress.
Wednesday brought confirmation of an agreement to allow emergency service vehicles to cross the bridge when the situation demands it.
— Forth Road Bridge (@forthroadbridge) December 9, 2015