Forth Road Bridge closed overnight after lorry blown over
The Forth Road Bridge is to remain closed overnight after the recovery of a lorry which was blown over in high winds.
Bridge operators said it would not reopen to traffic until 06:00 on Thursday.
The vehicle was blown from the northbound carriageway onto the southbound side at about 02:00.
The bridge was officially closed to HGVs at the time. A 54-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving.
Bridge operator Amey said the damage to the central grille barrier had been serious and it would take welders several hours to repair.
The lorry was eventually hauled upright by a crane after being disentangled from the barrier.
It was removed from the north end of the bridge shortly before 16:30 following delays to the recovery operation caused by strong gusts of wind.
The bridge operator later tweeted: “The HGV has been successfully moved off the bridge & welding teams are going to be working through the night on repairs.”
Wind speeds on the bridge, which had reached 49mph, eventually dropped below 40mph to allow the removal.
Mark Arndt, of Amey, said: “We”re still in the process of assessing the damage caused by the HGV but we know that there is around 40m of damaged steelwork on the central grillage.
“We have a full repair crew and supplies mobilised and ready to begin remedial works and we”re working flat out to reopen the bridge as quickly as possible.”
Southbound traffic is currently being diverted from the M90 motorway at the Admiralty junction onto the A985 to Kincardine.
Northbound traffic on approach to the Forth Road Bridge is being diverted off the A90 at Echline and can travel along the A904 to join the M9 at Junction 2, or be turned around to travel to M9 J1A.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf, who said the driver was lucky to be alive, confirmed the significant traffic disruption had a financial impact on Scotland”s economy.
He said the focus now was to reopen the bridge as soon as the recovery and repair operations are complete.
Mr Yousaf said: “Once again the engineers and Forth Road Bridge team find themselves in the spotlight and I am hopeful they will be able to get the bridge reopened to traffic as soon as possible, albeit with restrictions in both directions likely.
“They are carrying out very challenging repairs in difficult conditions and the damage to the central reservation is significant.
“We should therefore be prepared for delays and disruption over the next few days as engineers assess the damage.”
A spokesman for the haulage company, Dumfries-based Currie European, said its first concern was for the welfare of the driver, who appeared to be “OK”.
The company said it would make no further comment at this stage in light of the ongoing investigation.
Andrea McKinnon was stuck in traffic on a bus near the Kincardine Bridge at 10:00 – three hours after setting off from Kirkcaldy to get to work in Glasgow.
She told BBC Scotland”s John Beattie programme the traffic was moving for a minute at a time before coming to a standstill again for about 20 minutes.
“It is normally a bit of a trek but today it is a profound trek,” she said.
“There is still horrendous traffic trying to get over the Kincardine Bridge.
“I have honestly no idea when I am going to get to Glasgow because right now over the bridge it is at a standstill.
“So it could be sundown and then I will have to turn round and go all the way home.
“Heed the warnings”
“It”s quite busy on the bus. I can see people phoning their bosses trying to explain that they can”t get through because they are stuck.
“There is nobody really angry because there is nothing you can do about it. There is some sighing and huffing and puffing.
“I just wish people would heed the warnings with the signs on the Forth because there is a reason for it. But now there is nothing you can do.”
Jenny Ansett turned back for home in Dunfermline in Fife after hitting traffic as she headed for the Forth Road Bridge.
She told John Beattie it took her 28 minutes to drive a mile-and-a-half.
She said: “I work in a university and I”ve inconvenienced a number of colleagues today because of this.
“But I”m not saving lives – it”s not like I”m doing open-heart surgery or flying planes or things like that.
“Every time this happens it seems bonkers that great swathes of central Scotland grind to a halt because of one road. So we can only hope when this new bridge opens it will be a bit of an improvement.
“I think the problem is we all rely on the roads too much and the public transport options just aren”t up to it when these things happen.”
Drivers have been warned to expect disruption to journeys as gusts of up to 70mph are forecast to batter much of Scotland.
Strong winds are expected to last for most of Wednesday.
The Met Office said wintry showers were likely to affect many parts of the country during the afternoon.
Strong winds and snow are expected to last through much of Thursday with a further warning for snow valid until late on Friday.
The Met Office has issued several yellow Be Aware warnings and said the combination of wintry showers and strong winds could lead to difficult travel conditions. There is also a risk of snow drifts on higher routes on Thursday and Friday.
Lightning may also accompany the heavier showers, with potential disruption to power supplies.