‘Its beauty is obvious – the journey borders on the humdrum’
As a Fife resident who traverses the Forth twice daily on my commutes to and from the capital, I had been counting down the days to the Queensferry Crossing’s opening.
Seeing the structure take shape bit by achingly slow bit from the road deck of its younger neighbour, yesterday’s launch couldn’t come soon enough.
Predictably, the preopening hype resulted in a tad more bridge-bound traffic than would be typical at 8am on a Wednesday morning. In the end, it took the best part of an hour to travel just a few miles from a housing estate on the eastern fringes of Dunfermline to the shiny new link – a journey that would normally take about 15 minutes.
It was a backside-numbing crawl that would have been worth it had the end result been less of an anticlimax.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s an impressive, indeed world-record-breaking, feat of civil engineering that as a nation we should be proud of. Its scale, delicacy and beauty is obvious to any onlooker – but I’m afraid that the 1.7-mile journey across its smoothly tarmacked superstructure borders on the humdrum.
The Forth Road Bridge offered a real sense of drama with its spectacular views of the historic rail bridge on a south-bound run, its distinctive rollercoaster-like hump on the central span, the vertiginous scale of its steel lattice towers as you passed beneath them, and its odd undulation.
In comparison, its 21st century replacement just feels like a big motorway flyover – an effect that is sure to be accentuated when the speed limit is raised to 70mph. The restricted views are also likely to worsen as those fancy wind deflectors weather.
And I can’t be the only one mourning the loss of the reassuring “thump thump” associated with the old bridge’s expansion joints.
Where the 53-year-old FRB seemed to live and breathe, from a driver and bridge lover’s perspective I’m afraid to say the Queensferry Crossing is bordering on the merely functional. But maybe that’s just the point.
On the flip side, yesterday’s rush-hour breakdown involving a lorry showed the merit of having a hard shoulder on the new crossing, while my final few miles into Edinburgh from the Scotstoun junction along Queensferry Road to Orchard Brae was a traffic-free breeze. Here’s hoping that continues.