New Forth bridge opening delayed until May

The new £1.35 billion bridge across the Firth of Forth will now open in May next year — not December 2016 as expected –the Scottish government has confirmed.

The consortium building the Queensferry Crossing has informed ministers that ongoing effects of weather on construction mean it will require more time to complete the bridge.

Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors’ (FCBC) contract runs until June 2017 and until recently, the target of opening in December 2016 — six months ahead of the contractual completion date — was considered “challenging but still achievable.”

But since September 2015 the downtime due to adverse weather, specifically wind, has been 40% compared to the 25% anticipated by the contractor.

“In order to mitigate the on-going weather impacts that have arisen over the past few months FCBC has procured additional physical resource, increased staffing by taking on an additional 100 workers, increased working hours, altered construction methodologies where possible and challenged critical construction sequences to identify where any programme efficiencies could be found,” said the Scottish government.

Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work Keith Brown said: “We will continue to work closely with the contractors and I will personally ensure that every pressure and every resource is brought to bear to deliver or even better the revised target date of May 2017.

“Going forward, in order to ensure that this project remains on track, I have implemented enhanced governance procedures from Transport Scotland senior management and will receive twice weekly updates from the project team.

“We have always been ambitious about this project and have always worked towards a deliberately ambitious target.

“However, it is important to recognise that FCBC still fully expects the project to complete within the timeframe of their contract. This project is not late and there will be no impact on the public purse.

“The December 2016 target date was set to address concerns about the long term condition of the Forth Road bridge where it was originally believed that it would be restricted as early as 2017.

“These concerns have proven to be less immediate and the recently installed structural health monitoring system is providing assurance on the ability of the FRB to sustain traffic.

“However that hasn’t decreased our determination to complete this once in a generation project at the earliest opportunity.

“The Queensferry Crossing directly employs over 1,200 people, many of whom have been performing some of the most complex civil engineering ever seen in Scotland, in the highly challenging environment of the Firth of Forth.

“Over 12 million man hours have gone into the project so far and we should not lose sight of their hard work and dedication. Anyone who looks at the works in the Forth cannot fail to be impressed with their achievements to date.

“It is important to remember that in the space of around nine years remarkable progress has been made in advancing this project from feasibility study to near completion.”