Forth Road Bridge to reopen to all traffic as repairs completed
The Forth Road Bridge will fully reopen to all traffic this weekend - 11 weeks after the discovery of a crack forced its closure.
The busy crossing had to be shut to all traffic early in December, although cars and light vehicles were allowed to use it again just before Christmas.
Scottish Transport Minister Derek Mackay confirmed HGVs will be allowed to use the bridge at any time from 11pm on Saturday.
It comes after a phased re-introduction earlier this month saw 600 lorries able to travel northbound on the bridge for a limited period every night.
Mr Mackay said on Friday: "The immediate repair work is in the final stage and no further structural defects have been identified during painstaking investigations by engineers.
"I know that this is something that will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of drivers who use the bridge on a daily basis, especially the heavy goods vehicle drivers who have had to observe restricted crossing times in the past few weeks."
The Road Haulage Association had previously complained that the closure of the bridge was costing firms £600,000.
The 51-year-old crossing had been closed to all traffic from December 4 after a crack in a truss end link was discovered during a routine inspection.
At the start of February, ministers said the storms which had battered Scotland had slowed the progress of repairs, and they warned it could be mid-March before HGVs could have unrestricted access to the bridge.
But to speed up repairs, as much work as possible was done in the factory, lessening the impact of the weather and allowing the date to be brought forward.
Mr Mackay said: "Tribute should be paid to the engineering team that has been relentless in its commitment to getting this structure reopened.
"The team has worked tirelessly throughout, despite very challenging weather conditions, employing innovative approaches to the repairs and putting in place very effective solutions to complex problems."
AA president Edmund King said: "It is wonderful news for all drivers in Scotland that this key bridge is to be fully reopened.
"AA RoadWatch has been reporting the knock-on effects of the closure and diversions. It is a stark reminder to us of the importance of well-maintained road infrastructure."
Martin Reid, Road Haulage Association director for Scotland, said: "The return to normal is a huge relief for all concerned. All too often we take our core road infrastructure for granted and that cannot be allowed to happen in future."