High-level bridge works specialist Spencer Group has completed a “hugely challenging” project on the Forth Road Bridge, which followed the discovery of a major structural fault in December 2015.
The contractor, which is based in Hull with offices in Glasgow, replaced truss end links connecting the bridge deck to the towers, after a fracture found four years ago led to urgent repairs and caused the crossing to close for three weeks.
The £10 million scheme involved cutting out the truss end links and replacing them with a “unique” sliding bearing system.
Spencer Group bridges projects manager James Barnes said: “This project has been particularly challenging in relation to access because the truss end links and the new bearings we have fitted are below the bridge deck, about 40 metres above the water.
“With our supply chain we have fabricated over 200 tonnes of new steel and joined it to the existing structure in some very inaccessible areas.
“The pieces that we cut out to replace were seven to eight tonnes in weight and some of the heaviest lifts have been up to 16 tonnes. All the pieces have had to be lifted onto the bridge deck or lowered to the workboat, so there have been major lifting, hoisting and access challenges that had to be overcome.”
As well as installing the new bearing arrangements, Spencer Group has introduced modifications that are set to make future works “considerably easier”, such as new permanent access stairs and platforms to allow easy and safe inspection and maintenance.
Spencer Group is currently working on two other major bridges projects in Scotland.