Inquiry to be held into Forth Road Bridge closure

Jim Eadie MSP
Jim Eadie MSP

A Scottish Parliament committee has agreed to undertake an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the closure of the Forth Road Bridge.

The infrastructure and capital investment committee said the inquiry will focus on the structural defects identified on the bridge and whether these could have been avoided or dealt with differently.

An independent technical adviser will be taken on as part of the inquiry, which will begin next month.

The bridge was closed to all traffic on 4 December after a crack was discovered in a truss under the carriageway.

Engineers from Amey hope to have it repaired and open to traffic again by 4 January.

The inquiry aims to call officials from bridge operator Amey, its predecessor the Forth Estuary Transport Authority, Transport Scotland staff and the transport secretary Derek Mackay.

The remit of the inquiry is “to examine the management, monitoring and maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge principally in the 10 year period prior to its closure on public safety grounds in December 2015.”

Committee convener Jim Eadie said: “While we welcome the government’s announcement that the bridge is expected to reopen early in the New Year, legitimate questions have been raised about why the bridge had to be closed and whether the structural problems identified could have been avoided or dealt with differently.

“The committee has agreed that these questions should be addressed in a focused, timely and transparent manner.”

Mr Mackay, who was praised at the committee for his transparency over the matter, welcomed the inquiry.

He said: “To date our absolute focus has rightly been on getting the bridge reopened as quickly and safely as possible, and ensuring a credible travel plan is in place to minimise disruption. I don’t think anyone would question that approach, and it’s important the engineers and experts have had space to fully concentrate on the complex repairs.

“I welcome the ICI committee’s decision to hold an inquiry, once the bridge has reopened, and I look forward to participating in that process. From day one I have been open and accountable. I have also been fully accessible, updating Parliament, speaking to the media on a daily basis, chairing a technical briefing for MSPs, and keeping stakeholders and political representatives up to date, I have taken every opportunity to be transparent on this issue of national importance – that will continue to be the case.

“I am confident that when the engineers – including those with 30 years’ experience of working on the FRB and the independent experts - get the chance to provide evidence to the committee, including the unpredictable nature of the fault, then people will see that the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland have taken difficult but decisive action and have behaved in a responsible manner.”

To submit evidence to the inquiry click here.

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