The Forth Road will re-open to vehicles except for HGVs tomorrow Transport Scotland has announced.
Temporary repairs have been completed ahead of schedule and the bridge will open from 6am on Wednesday.
Operating company Amey, which carried out the repair work, confirmed the installation of the steel splint to the crack which caused the closure on December 3 is complete and traffic, except for HGVs and abnormal loads, can now safely pass over it.
The news brings to an end weeks of misery for travellers who were forced into diversions over the Clackmannanshire and Kincardine bridges through miles of congestion, especially at peak times.
Listen to an audio clip of the announcement HERE
Transport Minister Derek Mackay praised the team who he said have worked round the clock to get the vital link open tomorrow after it was thought the bridge would be shut until the new year.
Mr Mackay said: “I am pleased that we are now able to re-open the bridge to 90 per cent of traffic, well ahead of schedule.
“Following rigorous testing and inspection of the temporary repair, experts have recommended the bridge is now ready to open to all traffic except HGVs.
“With the temporary solution now in place, the remaining work to install the long term repair can safely proceed without the need for a full closure. The repairs will be carried out with overnight lane restrictions on the bridge.
“For the complex and detailed interim repair to have been completed in this timeframe is a tribute to the highly skilled and dedicated staff who have worked 24/7 since December 3. Since the closure was put in place, weather conditions have been mainly favourable and the team have been able to complete the repair work in good time.”
He added: “In addition to the interim repair on the cracked member, splints are being installed on the other seven members as a precaution. Of these, work is already complete at four and the remaining three will be completed, subject to weather, by the end of December.
“There is no reason for the bridge to remain closed while this work is completed. The other seven members have also been inspected and load tested and no issues have been discovered. However strain gauges will also be attached to these members to gather accurate data on their performance.
“Since closure of the bridge was put in place it has also undergone a thorough health check. A painstaking inspection has been carried out involving over 65 rope access inspectors and drone footage to identify any other defects.
“The inspection is 90 per cent complete and no material defects have been identified. It will be concluded by early January and there is no reason to keep the bridge closed while this is completed.”
HGV traffic accounts for 32 per cent of the weight the bridge normally carries, despite making up just nine per cent of the overall traffic.
Chartered engineer Mark Arndt, Amey’s account director responsible for the bridge, said: “Better than expected weather conditions and round the clock work by our teams allowed us to progress with the detailed inspection, scaffolding construction and actual repairs quicker than originally anticipated.
“While we are pleased to have finished ahead of schedule for non HGV traffic to use the bridge, we are very aware of the ongoing inconvenience for HGVs not having access.
“Public safety has been at the heart of everything we’ve been doing and work will be progressing over the coming weeks on the additional strengthening works required to enable HGVs to start safely using the bridge.”
Police Scotland is advising HGV drivers to leave extra time their journeys and use existing diversions, while extra police officers will be in place at the Froth Road Bridge.
Superintendent Fraser Candlish of the Road Policing Unit said: “Keeping traffic moving safely in the east of Scotland and minimising disruption to road users continues to be our priority, along with our traffic management partners.
“We are supporting getting the key route open again as many thousands of people head on their Christmas and new year journeys.
“To ensure the Bridge opens to all other traffic, we will be enforcing the closure to HGVs. Officers will be on patrol on both sides of the Forth, maintaining a visible presence and stopping heavy goods vehicles on the approach. There will also be enforcement through static and mobile cameras.
“The restrictions are in place for the safety of all bridge users and I would continue to urge all HGV drivers to leave extra time for their journeys and use the divisions which are being widely signposted and publicised.
“Extra officers will continue to patrol these diversion routes also, to respond to any incidents which may occur and keep traffic flowing.”