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FORTH BRIDGE PAINTING CUT BY THREE FOURTHS

Innovative paint selection produces ‘win win’ on long-running safety issue

The expression to describe a never-ending task… “It’s like painting the Forth Bridge” is soon to be consigned to the dustbin of history. The 1.5 mile-long bridge is Scotland’s biggest listed structure and its 1,710 centre span makes it the second longest cantilever bridge in the world, after the Quebec bridge in Canada.

A team of painters is about to complete a new durable paint coat which should last for 30 years. The work will also see the removal of the scaffolding which has covered parts of the structure for many years.

Bridge owner Network Rail has brought the completion date forward by two years. However, initial problems mean the painting of the bridge will have taken 14 years at a total of some £180 million.

Reported prompted safety ‘by design’

An HSE report into the state of the bridge in 1996 prompted a major rethink on how the bridge should be maintained by specifying a new long-lasting paint mix. The triple layer of special “glass flake epoxy” paint is similar to that used in offshore.

The paint creates a chemical bond to provide a virtually impenetrable layer to protect the bridge from the weather. Network Rail said the coating would last a minimum of 25 years. Bridge engineers are confident it could last significantly longer.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said:

“It will be wonderful to see the Forth Bridge in all its glory. We hope that the new paint will achieve or exceed its predicted lifespan.”

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