Fury over works kept se­cret from mo­torists

Months of de­lays be­cause of re­pairs Govern­ment knew about be­fore bridge was opened

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - GareTh mcpher­soN po­liT­i­cal re­porTer gm­cpher­son@the­courier.co.uk

Mo­torists face months of Queens­ferry Cross­ing de­lays as a re­sult of works that have been kept hid­den from the pub­lic.

This week’s par­tial clo­sure of the Fife to Ed­in­burgh link was blamed on botched resur­fac­ing at the bridge’s joints, which the govern­ment knew about be­fore the open­ing in Septem­ber.

A se­nior Scot­tish Govern­ment of­fi­cial told MSPs there were likely to be fur­ther lane re­stric­tions un­til Septem­ber 2018, when the con­trac­tor is still li­able for all snag­ging works.

Op­po­si­tion MSPs have crit­i­cised the Scot­tish Govern­ment for not telling mo­torists about the need for the clo­sures once the bridge was open.

Michelle Ren­nie, di­rec­tor of ma­jor trans­port in­fra­struc­ture projects at the Scot­tish Govern­ment, said the five-day par­tial clo­sure, which starts tonight, was down to faults with the road sur­fac­ing around the bridge’s joints.

“It’s a work­man­ship is­sue, the de­sign is cor­rect, but the sur­fac­ing wasn’t laid to the tol­er­ances set out in the de­sign,” Ms Ren­nie told MSPs. She ad­mit­ted the is­sue was known about in Au­gust, be­fore the bridge was opened to huge fan­fare, but said the re­sponse to it had not been

To make mat­ters worse, we now know there­are po­ten­tially more clo­sures to come. JAMIE GREENE

de­cided. Tory MSP Jamie Greene asked why the pub­lic was only told about it on Mon­day when the Govern­ment knew about the sur­fac­ing is­sues be­fore the bridge was opened.

Ms Ren­nie replied: “The con­trac­tor hadn’t de­signed the so­lu­tion to this un­til prob­a­bly a cou­ple of weeks ago and like I say the thing that causes the great­est dis­rup­tion on the road net­work is driver con­fu­sion, so what we didn’t want to do is put out dates and change those dates.”

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, Mr Greene said: “At no point were road users, whose daily lives are now thrown into dis­ar­ray, in­formed that there were im­pend­ing clo­sures. To make mat­ters worse, we now know that there are po­ten­tially more clo­sures to come.”

Alex Cole-Hamil­ton, the Lib Dem MSP, said: “It is an insult to the pub­lic that min­is­ters didn’t tell them clo­sures were on the way. We need to know ex­actly what other works are in the pipe­line to make the bridge fully op­er­a­tional and how this will im­pact upon its users.”

South­bound traf­fic will be di­verted along the Forth Road Bridge dur­ing the works. They are due to start at 10pm tonight and fin­ish at 6am on Wed­nes­day. The speed limit will be 40mph on both bridges dur­ing this time.

The de­lay is es­ti­mated at “two to four min­utes at morn­ing and evening peaks”.

Ms Ren­nie told the ru­ral econ­omy and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee it had al­ways been made clear there will be “fin­ish­ing and snag­ging works re­quired”, which could in­clude fix­ing me­chan­i­cal and elec­tri­cal is­sues.

On why they were not car­ried out be­fore the open­ing, she said: “There was no need to de­lay open­ing for that sort of thing. Th­ese are rel­a­tively nor­mal.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Caw­ley

Driv­ers are left frus­trated by long tail­backs to the north of the cross­ing.

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