Forth Road Bridge “remarkable” repair scoops top engineering award

Used by over 24 million vehicles a year, the repair of Scotland’s longest bridge has been crowned the overall winner of the 2016 Saltire Society Civil Engineering Awards

Forth Bridge closed due to cracking in the steel work.
Forth Bridge closed due to cracking in the steel work.

Established in 1981, the Awards are a much coveted accolade from the Saltire Society and the Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland, recognising excellence and innovation in civil engineering.

This year’s Awards have been revamped to feature six individual categories to mark 2016 as the Saltire Society’s 80th anniversary and include a new award for the project judged to have made the greatest contribution to Scotland.

The Forth Road Bridge: Truss End Links Repair won the Greatest Contribution to Scotland Award praised by the judges for being “a remarkable engineering achievement carried out during a period of adverse weather conditions, whilst ensuring public safety and the structural integrity of the bridge.”

The identification of fractured steelwork in a ‘truss end link’ of the bridge led to its closure to all traffic on 3 December 2015. Thanks to the quick and efficient work of the Contractor and Clients engineering teams, the Forth Road Bridge was able to reopen to all vehicles, except HGVs, on 23 December.

By repairing the bridge ahead of schedule and under extreme media, political and public scrutiny, the lives of tens of thousands of commuters and travellers, who were forced onto heavily crowded trains, relief buses and alternative roads in the interim, were able to return to normal after only 20 days of disruption.

The infrastructure award went to the A82 Pulpit Rock Realignment on the banks of Loch Lomond. Projects that received commendations include the Lamington Viaduct on the River Clyde, the Gourock Pier Redevelopment, Ngau Tam Mei to Tai Kong Po tunnels in China, and the Elgin Flood Alleviation Scheme.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, speaking at the awards ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland last night (25 October, 2016), said:

“The Saltire Society's Awards for Civil Engineering provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate Civil Engineering at its best across Scotland and worldwide, particularly in 2016, the Year of Innovation Architecture and Design. I am delighted that two Transport Scotland projects have been considered by the Society for an award: the Forth Road Bridge Truss End Links Repair and the A82 Pulpit Rock realignment.

“Since 2007, the Scottish Government has invested over £18 billion in transport infrastructure and services to deliver the largest transport investment programme that Scotland has ever seen. Transport projects in rural areas feature heavily in this year’s awards. They are a testimony to how innovative and creative engineers can transform the lives of individuals, communities and businesses in rural Scotland for the better. By enabling them to access goods, services and markets where and when they need them.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said:

“The Saltire Society Awards are widely regarded as the most respected of the civil engineering industry and this is a prestigious and well-deserved accolade.

“It is fitting that the unsung heroes responsible for developing such an innovative and effective solution against a challenging deadline and under the watchful eye of a nation have been recognised for their efforts.

“Transport Scotland was delighted to play a role in getting the bridge reopened in such a relatively short space of time. The collective response to this unforeseen event was remarkable and reinforced Scotland’s solid reputation for engineering excellence.”

Speaking on receiving the Greatest Contribution to Scotland Award on behalf of Amey, Major Bridges Director Ewan Angus said:

“We are delighted to have won the award in this category. We are incredibly proud of our team’s achievement in reopening the bridge early in the most challenging of circumstances and of the benefit this brought to the people of Scotland. This project offered a unique opportunity to showcase Civil Engineering to the nation and we are delighted our contribution has been recognised with this award.”

Convenor of the judging panel and former Chair of ICE Scotland, Gordon Pomphrey, said:

“The Forth Road Bridge project demonstrated a remarkable engineering achievement carried out during a period of adverse weather conditions, whilst ensuring public safety and the structural integrity of the bridge. The expertise and dedication shown by the site team enabled completion ahead of programme, and this alleviated the prolonged economic, social and environmental impacts associated with diverting over 70,000 vehicles 33 miles each day.”

Jim Tough, Executive Director of the Saltire Society said:

“This is a special year for the Saltire Society as we reflect upon 80yrs of celebrating the Scottish imagination in all its forms. Civil engineering is vital to modern living and a successful economy and we believe it is important to recognise the achievements of the industry and the wide variety of projects that make such an impact on our daily lives.”

See more about the projects and what the judges said


1. The Saltire Awards for civil engineering recognise excellence and innovation in civil engineering. The Awards are run by the Saltire Society in partnership with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland.

2. 14 entries were received this year with two Award winners and four commendations.