Forth comes first in UK-wide public vote

The Forth Road Bridge.

The Forth Road Bridge.

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The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice Award winner was announced today (January 23) after the public voted the Forth Road Bridge reopening as the greatest civil engineering achievement of 2016.

The Bridge was one of 12 nominations from across the UK which have improved people’s lives – protecting homes and businesses from flooding, improving the environment and helping us get from A to B faster and more safely. Other entries included station improvements in Birmingham and Manchester, a 21st Century sewer network for London and flood protection and wetland habitat using waste from London’s Crossrail tunnel.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, presented the winners, Transport Scotland and Amey, with the new trophy at a ceremony today at ICE’s UK headquarters at One Great George Street, Westminster. Sir John Armitt, Deputy Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission and ICE Past President, was in attendance at the ceremony.

The Forth Road Bridge carries 70,000 vehicles each day and is a vital connection both for commuters into Edinburgh and between central Scotland and the North and East of the country. Its closure in December 2015 led to a 33-mile diversion for travelling public, creating significant disruption.

Civil engineers worked around the clock to repair the fractured truss-end link which caused the closure. Their expertise and dedication enabled the bridge to reopen to traffic ahead of schedule and in time for Christmas, and later for HGVs, exceeding the public’s expectations.

Social media kept an anxious public and politicians informed and engineers became the heroes of the hour as images of them suspended over 50 metres above the water in wintry weather went viral, showcasing civil engineering on a global stage.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “This prestigious award is significant in that it was voted for by the public in their droves and saw off competition from the rest of the UK. The strength of feeling in terms of appreciation, community spirit and respect for those who fixed the bridge is clear for all to see in the thousands of votes cast.

“It is very fitting that the unsung heroes responsible for producing such an innovative solution under intense pressure have been recognised for their efforts. They worked tirelessly in extremely challenging weather conditions to repair and reopen the bridge. The collective response to this unforeseen event was remarkable and reinforced Scotland’s solid reputation for engineering excellence.”

Andy Milner, CEO at Amey, who maintain and repair the bridge, said: “The work to repair the Forth Road Bridge represented a true logistical and engineering challenge. Amey’s full breadth of capability and knowledge was used to re-open the bridge ahead of schedule. We feel extremely proud to have been involved, and to have received this award.”

Commenting, ICE Director, Wendy Blundell said: “Civil engineers help bring clean water and energy to our homes and design, build and maintain the vital transport infrastructure on which our quality of life and economy depend. Unfortunately it is often only when that infrastructure fails that we understand the true value of civil engineering. I’m delighted to see the vital contribution our members make to society recognised by the people who use it.”