Concrete blunder at Forth bridge ‘put lives at risk’

The new bridge over the Forth takes shape. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The new bridge over the Forth takes shape. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Work on a key section of the new Queensferry Crossing ground to a halt after a routine concrete pour was bungled by bridge bosses.

The concrete was being used to reinforce the road deck level on the north tower, but the operation had to be stopped when it became apparent the material’s consistency was wrong.

Transport chiefs today denied allegations the error had put the lives of bridge workers at risk and vowed the mistake would have no effect on the structure’s budget or timetable.

An insider close to the build reportedly claimed it was “a miracle” no-one died when pipes carrying concrete from sea level “exploded” last week.

The source alleged about six lorry loads of concrete were poured before the operation was stopped, forcing workers to dig it back up again after it had set – causing damage to steel rods underneath and costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to fix.

The botched works mean progress on the key section – the closest tower to the Fife coastline – was delayed, with the concrete set to be re-poured next week.

The incident happened after ships carrying concrete to the bridge were held up by traffic at the port of Rosyth, causing their load to stiffen.

But a Transport Scotland spokesman insisted the 1.7-mile crossing remained “on schedule and under budget”.

He said: “Health and safety is our number one priority. All construction activities are carefully planned via method statements and risk assessments in line with relevant regulations.

“Some difficulties were encountered on the first concrete pour on the north tower deck last Friday, causing the pour to be stopped.

“The small quantity of concrete placed has already been removed, cleaning work is under way and we expect to be in a position to pour the concrete in this area next week.

“Time to address any problems which may arise is accounted for in the overall programme.”

The £1.4 billion bridge is on track to be completed in 2016.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com