Forth Road Bridge set for £65m paint job

A previous paint job is carried out on the bridge in 2001. Picture: Sean Bell

A previous paint job is carried out on the bridge in 2001. Picture: Sean Bell

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THE Forth Road Bridge is in line for a new £65 million lick of paint – as long as it’s grey.

Bosses want to give the 202,000 square metre structure a new coat of paint and have asked Transport Scotland for the massive sum.

And the job makes painting your back bedroom look like a doddle. A small army of 100 specialist painters will be employed for the task that is 
estimated to take between 12 and 15 years to complete.

Work is due to get under way in 2017-18 but, with the structure being a category A listed building, bridge chiefs are left with just one colour option – grey.

The entire length of the suspended span truss will be painted – a job last carried out between 1980 and 1993. The two main towers were completely repainted between 2006 and 2012.

Bridgemaster and chief engineer Barry Colford has stressed that this latest project is far more complex than simply adding a fresh coat of paint.

The new colouring the team will use has to meet modern environmental standards.

However, the it will not adhere to the old coating, so workers can’t just slap a fresh coat of the grey stuff on the span.

Instead, the existing pigment will have to be blasted back to bare steel before the fresh coats can be applied.

Mr Colford said this approach was “the most cost effective long-term solution from a technical standpoint”.

At present, the bridge is managed by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority, made up of councillors from Edinburgh, Fife, West Lothian and Clackmannanshire.

But the Forth Road Bridge and the new £1.6 billion Queensferry Crossing, due to open in 2016, are to pass to a private operating company yet to be appointed by Scottish ministers.

Ahead of 
FETA’s dissolution, bosses have submitted an £80m work plan to be included in the new 
company’s five to ten-year contract – the bulk of which relates to repainting the bridge.

Other significant schemes include the replacement of the deck joints, the resurfacing of the main span and improvements to under-deck access.

Mr Colford added: “Transport Scotland requested a schedule of capital works considered essential to ensure the future structural integrity of the Forth Road Bridge be forwarded to them for inclusion within the Forth Bridges Operating Contract.

“The total sum is £80m over ten years and a large part of that cost is in the work to strengthen and paint the suspended span truss.”

The neighbouring rail bridge is famous for its high maintenance paintwork, but after its last makeover in 2011 it was revealed that it would not need redone for another 25 years.

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com