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Engineer describes moment he discovered Forth Road Bridge crack

Robert McCulloch told the First Minister how he found the flaw during a routine inspection.

Forth Bridge: First Minister meets engineer Robert McCulloch.
Forth Bridge: First Minister meets engineer Robert McCulloch. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

The engineer who discovered the crack which forced the closure of the Forth Road Bridge has described the moment he spotted the fault.

Robert McCulloch told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon how he found the flaw during a routine inspection of the bridge.

The discovery led to the complete closure of the crossing, which has disrupted travel across the central belt and beyond.

The route will remain shut until the new year while engineers repair the crack, and extra trains and buses have been arranged to help commuters cope.

Speaking to the First Minister on Tuesday, Mr McCulloch said: "I just saw it out of the corner of my eye and I said to myself 'I hope that isn't what I think it is'.

"But it was. It's just one of those things."

Ms Sturgeon publicly thanked Mr McCulloch for his work on Tuesday.

She said: "All credit to him because although this is inconvenient and disruptive to people, spotting this fault when it was spotted means it is a smaller repair [that] can be done in a shorter time scale than otherwise would have been the case."

ScotRail has made 6500 extra seats available to passengers travelling between Edinburgh and Fife and another 11,000 spaces are available on park and ride buses.

Despite this, travellers have faced packed train carriages and long delays on the roads, including an 11-mile tailback on the first day of the closure on Friday.

Closure 'costs haulage firms 600,000 a day'

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has claimed the a 60-mile round-trip HGVs are forced to take to avoid the bridge is costing firms £600,000 a day.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said the body plans to push the Scottish Government for compensation on behalf of the 10,500 HGV drivers who use the Forth Bridge daily.

He added: "The knock-on effects for hauliers are already beginning to bite. Although we welcome the dedicated HGV route on the A985, the additional cost to hauliers is immense."

'Cycling opportunity'

Lothian cycle campaigners Spokes has raised the prospect of allowing cyclists to use the Forth Road Bridge while repairs are carried out.

The group said: "The reason the bridge has been closed is because of damage caused by the weight and vibration of motor traffic, and which is likely to be worsened by continuing traffic.

"Bicycles add no significant weight or vibration and are not going to worsen the existing vehicle-caused damage."

Meanwhile, 12 security guards are to be employed to stop drivers attempting to cross the bridge and members of the public trying to access it to take photographs.

The £175-a-day role has been advertised on job sites with the description noting that three guards will be on duty on each side of the crossing at all times until it reopens.

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