THE body responsible for operating and maintaining the Forth Road Bridge will dissolve next year as three firms jostle for the contract to run the bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing.

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) is currently responsible for inspecting and maintaining the bridge but will be replaced by either Amey LG Ltd, Ringway-Jacobs-Cofiroute and Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering or Scotland TranServ in November.

It will remove the input of local authorities into how the bridge is run, with government agency Transport Scotland now taking the lead.

But despite the change the Scottish Government have approved legislation to save 70 jobs by transferring them to the new operating company from 31st May 2015 although its board of local councillors will be disbanded.

FETA’s vice convener Tony Martin, a Dunfermline South councillor who is also the longest-serving member of its board, said, “As FETA disappears there will be no-one but Transport Scotland with any responsibility for the bridge.

“I am very sorry to see the input of local authorities into how the bridge is operated disappear, though I am pleased the staff will transfer over even though we will go.” The firm awarded the contract, said to be worth between £40-£60million over five years, will also maintain the adjacent road network around the bridges.

FETA currently employ 70 staff, though this number is expected to rise to about 90 once the new Queensferry Crossing opens at the end of 2016.

Barry Colford, chief engineer and bridgemaster for FETA, said, “The authority’s preferred option was to remain responsible for the maintenance and operation of the existing bridge and be delegated the responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the new Forth Crossing.

"Although that option was not selected by the Scottish Government, FETA are pleased that the principle of a single body having responsibility for both bridges has been included in the bill and that the expertise of the FETA staff, and the resources of the authority at South Queensferry, will be fully utilised.”