Putting off vital maintenance on bridge was a mistake. Now someone apologise

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AMIDST the disruption of the Forth Road Bridge closure, the Scottish Government was quick to say the fault could not have been foreseen, nor was any preventative maintenance put off because of budget constraints. (“Engineers were constantly worried about Bridge defects”, 29 January).

While early evidence seemed to contradict this position, nevertheless this stance was reinforced in statements by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her transport minister, Derek Mackay, clearly determined to ensure no fault was laid at their door.

Yet in yesterday’s evidence from the former bridgemaster we have it confirmed that the overstressing of the truss-end links was a cause for concern, that engineers had rightly put forward plans for replacing sections around where the crack appeared, but that five years ago that planned work was shelved due to cuts.

Putting off vital maintenance work was clearly in hindsight a terrible and costly decision. Yet just as troubling, is that despite its popularity, this SNP government cannot be honest about mistakes it has made.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

When the other side of the argument on maintenance of the bridge was presented by The Scotsman’s respected transport correspondent, Alastair Dalton, it appeared in the body of the paper. Now evidence is given which can be used to attack the SNP, it’s front-page news. 

No doubt in the fullness of time we will learn why Feta decided the work described was not the priority past bridgemaster, Barry Colford, say it was. Meanwhile, we have to wait till the last paragraph of Scott Macnab’s article to learn Mr Colford does not believe the seizure of the pin which caused the problem was “foreseeable” and “Not the primary reason for the planned truss-end links work”.

However, we are informed if the work had taken place it would have fortuitously remedied an unforeseen problem. Hindsight like this is marvellous, but hardly a sound basis for informed criticism.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Barry Colford has now confirmed cutbacks by the SNP government led to the closure of the Forth Road bridge.

He also confirmed ending tolls wasn’t thought through as to the implication on funding of essential maintenance.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Mugiemoss Road, Aberdeen