The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)
Forth crossing delays will ‘not cost taxpayers’
Bridge will not now open in December
The taxpayer will not have to pay any more money for the new Forth road bridge as a result of delays that have pushed its opening date back by six months, Scotland’s Economy Secretary has pledged.
The Queensferry Crossing will not open by the end of the year as planned due to “adverse weather conditions” in April and May affecting construction, Keith Brown said.
Engineers had hoped to complete the bridge by December 2016 but that timescale has now slipped.
The bridge is still expected to open before its contractual completion date in mid-2017, Keith Brown told MSPs in a statement to parliament.
Last week, contractor Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) submitted an update of the impact of the weather on the progress to date.
Mr Brown said the project has “encountered a series of challenges” meaning the “contractors’ contingency time has been used up”.
He said: “Since deck-lifting operations commenced in September 2015, the downtime due to adverse weather, specifically wind, has been 40% compared to the 25% anticipated by the contractor.
“Until May, FCBC believed that they could mitigate these weather effects.
“However, the impact of the weather in April and May was particularly severe, with 13 days and 12 days lost to weather respectively.
“As a result, FCBC have advised ministers that due to the combined effects of the time lost in these two months they can no longer deliver the December 2016 target opening date.
“The Queensferry Crossing is now expected to be open by mid-May 2017, prior to the contractual completion date of mid-June 2017,” he said.
“There will be no additional cost to taxpayers and our previous projection of a £245 million saving remains.”
Mr Brown repeated that there will be “no impact on the budget” as a result of the delay, insisting any additional cost will be “at the expense of the contractor”.