Queens­ferry Cross­ing: Scot­land’s new­est bridge says ‘wel­come’

● Huge num­ber of ex­tra ve­hi­cles on bridge causes tail­backs ● Mo­torists warned to ex­pect fur­ther con­ges­tion at week­end

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By ALAS­TAIR DAL­TON Trans­port Correspondent

Traf­fic flows on both car­riage­ways of the Queens­ferry Cross­ing af­ter it opened to ve­hi­cles for the first time yes­ter­day morn­ing. Mo­torists were met with grid­lock as al­most 100,000 ve­hi­cles were thought to have used the new bridge and tail­backs stretched five miles north and three miles south.

Grid­lock greeted the open­ing of the Queens­ferry Cross­ing, with close to 100,000 ve­hi­cles thought to have used the bridge on its first day.

Driv­ers are warned to ex­pect fur­ther con­ges­tion this week­end when 50,000 peo­ple take part in walks across the new cross­ing.

Tail­backs from the bridge on the M90 yes­ter­day stretched for at least five miles north into Fife, and three miles south as far as the M9.

Traf­fic Scot­land, the of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion ser­vice, said the surge of ex­tra traf­fic had dou­bled some jour­ney times.

The to­tal num­ber of ve­hi­cles car­ried by the cross­ing, mea­sured by elec­tronic sen­sors, is ex­pected to be far more than the 80,000 a day that cross the Forth Road Bridge, which it will re­place.

First over the 1.7-mile bridge when the north­bound car­riage­way opened at 1:49am was econ­omy sec­re­tary Keith Brown and Roy Bran­nen, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Trans­port Scot­land agency, which is in charge of the £1.35 bil­lion project.

They trav­elled in a sup­port ve­hi­cle from the Forth Cross­ing Bridge Con­struc­tors con­sor­tium which built the bridge, fol­lowed by a po­lice car. The south­bound car­riage­way opened an hour later at 2:49am.

Mr Brown said: “The weather this morn­ing proved a per­fect back­drop for all those who wanted to be a part of this his­toric day.

“This is lead­ing to large vol­umes of traf­fic on the ap­proaches which is caus­ing some de­lays.

“Peo­ple are very ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity and we ap­pre­ci­ate the pa­tience that they are show­ing when wait­ing to cross.

“You im­me­di­ately no­tice com­ing over the new bridge the ab­sence of the ‘slap, slap, slap’ that you get on the ex­ist­ing bridge. It’s a very smooth pas­sage.”

How­ever, mo­torists were soon vent­ing their frus­tra­tion at the de­lays.

Seon­aidh tweeted: “First time I’ve seen North bound queues at 8am. Great bridge but ut­ter traf­fic chaos.”

Emma tweeted: “Don’t un­der­stand why the old bridge can’t open for those who just want to get home! #Queens­fer­rycross­ing #sham­bles.”

Trans­port Scot­land said the de­lays were mainly on the ap­proach roads and traf­fic on the bridge was free flow­ing.

The cross­ing has a tem­po­rary 40mph speed limit which will be raised to 70mph when it be­comes a mo­tor­way.

That will be around mi­doc­to­ber once new road links are com­pleted to the Forth Road Bridge for buses.

A spokesman said: “Peak traf­fic be­gan ear­lier than usual from around 6am and has con­tin­ued across the day.

“Driv­ers are com­ing over the bridge and com­ing back again, which triples nor­mal traf­fic.

“Ob­ser­va­tions of day trip­pers, peo­ple cross­ing the bridges twice, and driv­ers tak­ingth­eop­por­tu­ni­ty­to­be­come fa­mil­iar with the new roads lay­outs, have con­trib­uted to the con­ges­tion.

“How­ever, it’s un­der­stand­able be­cause there is only one op­por­tu­nity to cross the bridge on its first day.”

The only re­ported in­ci­dent was a south­bound lorry break­ing down on the bridge around 7am, which was moved onto the hard shoul­der.

Traf­fic Scot­land op­er­a­tor manager Stein Con­nelly told The Scots­man: “Things went ex­actly as we thought they would – we have had an early ar­rival of peo­ple want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the drive across the Queens­ferry Cross­ing.”

Mr Con­nelly said if the lorry had bro­ken down on the Forth Road Bridge, traf­fic would have been re­duced to one lane, caus­ing more dis­rup­tion.

The new bridge re­mains open to­day but is then due to close early on Fri­day for six days un­til next Thurs­day for the bridge walks, and the of­fi­cial open­ing by the Queen on Mon­day.

All traf­fic will be switched back to the Forth Road Bridge, which is open to­day for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans only on a seg­re­gated foot­way on the east side of the bridge.

Neil Greig, of the IAM Road­s­mart mo­tor­ing group, said: “The first day or two was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult as driv­ers get used to the new lay­outs and the tem­po­rary speed lim­its. The real test will come next week when the nov­elty wears off and real life takes over.”

Fur­ther walks are be­ing laid on for 10,000 lo­cal res­i­dents and school pupils next Tuesday. A clear-up op­er­a­tion the fol­low­ing day will pre­pare for the Queens­ferry Cross­ing to open per­ma­nently, which is likely to be in the early hours of next Thurs­day.

The Forth Road Bridge’s west foot­way will be open to pedes­tri­ans only on Satur­day and Sun­day, with cy­clists us­ing the east foot­way.

The bridge will be closed to both pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists on Mon­day for the Queen’s visit. The east foot­way re-opens for use by both from Tuesday.

0 Traf­fic queues stretched back from the bridge as far as the M9 to the south as mo­torists waited for the op­por­tu­nity to be among the first to drive over the new Queens­ferry Cross­ing

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