New Forth road bridge to get wind shields

Forth Road Bridge currently closes in strong winds

COMMUTER chaos caused by high winds on a major new bridge will come to an end as plans to build a wind shield have been announced.

The wind-shield, designed for the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) project, will allow it to remain open during high-winds such as the ones caused by “Hurricane Bawbag” two weeks ago.

If plans go ahead for the FRC project, commuters will no longer face an 18mile detour to Kincardine bridge during extreme weather.

Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Alex Neil will reveal details of the wind-shielding at the bridge at North Queensferry next week.

The plans, if successful will not only keep the bridge open in strong gales, but will also provide work in the locality.

The announcement will unveil details of millions of pounds worth of sub-contracts awarded to more than 100 local firms.

And more than another 130 sub-contract opportunities associated with the project are currently being advertised.

The new crossing, due to open in 2016, will incorporate state of the art wind-shielding to ensure it will remain open to traffic during the sort of extreme high winds that shut the road bridge earlier this month during the famous “Hurricane Bawbag.”

Speaking about the plans to be unveiled this week, Mr Neil said: “This week marks a significant milestone on the Forth Replacement Crossing project and an early Christmas present for the construction sector in particular.”

“The principal FRC contract includes hugely valuable commitments on sustainability, training and employment opportunities and community engagement.”

He added that as well as supporting 1200 jobs at its peak, the project will provide 45 vocational training positions, 21 professional body training placements and 46 positions for the long term unemployed each year.

“Many more employment opportunities will be provided for school leavers, graduate engineers, and those currently out of work than originally expected,” Mr Neil explained.

“We are also working with the contractor to maximise Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.

“The FRC will secure over 3000 jobs and economic revenue of £1.3billion that would have otherwise been lost through the re-cabling of the existing bridge,” he added.

“Our expectation is that if the road network is functioning, the FRC will be open and operational.”

The total estimated cost, including VAT and allowing for inflation, is expected to be £1.45 to £1.6 billion, at 2016 prices.

The Forth Road Bridge was forced to close for over eight hours earlier in the month when “Hurricane Bawbag” swept 90mph winds across the country.

Speaking during the hurricane, a worker at the Forth Road Bridge said: “You sometimes get the odd lunatic who wants to get across the bridge because they’re in a rush.

“I’ve even seen people going the wrong way down the slip road trying to get across. But they never get across, we always manage to stop them,” he added.