Close Menu

About the FRC project

The Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) is a major infrastructure project for Scotland, designed to safeguard a vital connection in the country's transport network.


Overview

The FRC scheme includes construction of the Queensferry Crossing, a new three-tower, cable-stayed bridge between Fife and Edinburgh.

But the scheme is actually much larger than the bridge alone.

It has a 13.7 mile (22km) footprint which includes major improvements to the surrounding road networks on the north and south of the Forth.

 

Artist's impression of the new Crossing

Despite significant investment and maintenance over its lifetime, the current Forth Road Bridge is showing signs of deterioration and is not suitable as the long-term main crossing of the Firth of Forth. 

The FRC project will safeguard and improve this vital cross-Forth connection.


Did you know?

  • The Queensferry Crossing will be the longest three-tower cable stayed bridge in the world
  • The Queensferry Crossing is the tallest bridge in the United Kingdom
  • It is estimated construction will involve approximately 10 million man hours

Construction began in earnest in Autumn 2011 following the completion of a two-year procurement process that delivered significant savings on the scheme’s original expected cost.

The three main contracts that make up the FRC project were awarded in the Spring and Summer of 2011, with all three successful bids coming in under budget.

Lower than expected costs of these contracts means the total estimated cost range of delivering the FRC project is now £1.325 billion to £1.35 billion, a substantial reduction on the previous estimate of £1.7 billion to £2.3 billion.

Two of the three main contracts are now complete, delivering early benefits to motorists and local communities in Fife, Edinburgh and West Lothian.

The FRC project will be delivered in May 2017.

About the bridge

Computer generated view of the three bridges

Did you know?

  • the new Queensferry Crossing includes 23,000 miles of cabling – enough to wrap around the Moon three and half times and very nearly enough to span the circumference of Earth!
  • the steel required for the bridge deck (final design) weighs a total of 35,000 tonnes. That’s the equivalent weight of 80 Boeing 747s
  • the combined steel required for North and South Viaducts weighs 7,000 tonnes, enough to make another 23 Kelpies
  • it will be 207 metres above high tide (683ft), equivalent to approximately 22 London buses stacked end-to-end and 50 metres (25%) higher than the existing Forth Road Bridge (FRB)
  • the new cable-stayed bridge will have three slender single column towers and will be 1.7miles (2.7km) long, including approach viaducts. The road carried by the bridge will be designated as a motorway

This innovative cable arrangement provides extra strength and stiffness while the deck and towers can be narrow and elegant.

The bridge deck will carry two general lanes of traffic in each direction and hard shoulders to ensure that breakdowns, incidents and any maintenance works do not cause the severe congestion which has been experienced on the FRB.

The hard shoulders also provide the flexibility to carry buses displaced from the FRB during periods of high wind and other forms of public transport should it be required in the future.

Windshielding on the new bridge will protect the crossing from the effects of wind and provide a more reliable corridor, particularly for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs).

The bridge has been designed to complement the existing road and rail crossings and is the result of a rigorous assessment by an international team of architects and engineers.

It was developed in consultation with Architecture and Design Scotland.

View their report on the Architecture and Design Scotland website


Key reliability features

  • Windshielding will almost entirely eliminate the need for closures during the frequent periods of high winds in the Forth estuary – a significant resilience issue experienced with the current Forth Road Bridge which does not have any shielding
  • Latest, most durable materials
  • Cables can be replaced with more ease than on the Forth Road Bridge – it can be done as part of normal maintenance works without closing the bridge
  • Dehumidification system inside the box girder reduces moisture, preventing corrosion
  • Modern paint systems on the structure
  • Thicker road surfacing with longer surface life which can be machine laid making it easier to replace

Connecting roads

While the new bridge will be the most eye-catching element of the FRC, the scheme also involves a major improvement to the trunk road network in the east of Scotland.

Computer generated image of connecting roads at the Crossing

A total of 12 miles (19.7km) of roads connecting to the bridge will be significantly upgraded and around 2.5 miles (4km) of completely new connecting roads will be built.

The connecting roads strategy has been one of the major pieces of work undertaken by the FRC team and the final design is the result of a lengthy development process that included extensive consultation with communities and other stakeholders.

To the south of the bridge, a new motorway standard road will link the crossing to the A90 and M9, making use of the M9 Spur (now renamed M90).

The M9 Junction 1a contract was completed in February 2013 and has remodeled and improved the junction with the M9, creating new connections with and for West Lothian, relieving communities of heavy traffic on local roads as a result.

To the north, a new motorway will connect the bridge to the A90/M90, incorporating junction enhancements at Admiralty and Ferrytoll and road widening between them.

State-of-the-art Intelligent Transport System technology will be used along the full length of the scheme from the M90 Halbeath Junction over the Queensferry Crossing to the M9 at Newbridge. This will improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and improve road safety.

The Fife ITS contract was completed in December 2012.

Marking the first use of ITS in Scotland, it introduced gantries, signage and laybys on the M90 between Admiralty and Halbeath and on connecting roads. Further ITS technology was introduced as part of the M9 Junction 1a contract.

The final phase of the ITS roll-out will coincide with the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.

By maximising the use of the existing road network, the FRC’s connecting roads will result in less impact on the environment, properties and communities.

Read more detail on the connecting roads.


Intelligent Transport System

The FRC project will create a 13.7 mile (22km) ‘managed motorway’ by using an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) to help regulate the flow of traffic approaching and crossing the Forth.

This is the first time such a system will have been used in Scotland.

New ITS Gantry on the M90 in Fife

Similar managed motorways have been successfully implemented in England, for example on the M42 and M25.

This is being opened in phases – starting with phases 1 (Fife) and 2 (Edinburgh, West Lothian) in the winter of 2012 with the third and final phase going live on completion of the crossing. See map for further details.

ITS will then extend along a 22km corridor from the M90 Halbeath Junction over the new bridge to the M9 north of Newbridge Junction.

Drivers require no specialist skills to use roads featuring ITS.

Overhead gantries spaced regularly along the corridor will provide lane control, variable mandatory speed control and bus lane control. Variable message signs on the gantries will provide drivers with a wide range of traffic information.

Mandatory variable speed limits will be applied when necessary - e.g. during incidents or when significant congestion occurs.  The speed limits will be enforced.

The FRC Intelligent Transport System will be monitored and controlled through the Traffic Scotland Control Centre.

Benefits

  • There is clear evidence from similar schemes in the UK and across the world that Intelligent Transport Systems increase road operational efficiency, capacity and safety - this system will also improve safety for FRC construction workers
  • During incidents or periods of congestion when demand exceeds capacity, the system will set signals and message signs to inform and advise drivers to effectively manage incidents and reduce queues
  • Variable mandatory speed control will help maintain a steady flow of traffic and limit congestion to make journey times more reliable
  • Evidence indicates that systems which reduce vehicle queues can reduce accidents resulting in injury by up to 13%

Speed limit enforcement

As the first stage in the implementation of enforcement equipment for the Variable Mandatory Speed Limits (VMSL) a single enforcement camera was installed on the M90 southbound carriageway at its approach to the M9 Junction 1A, Kirkliston, in December 2016. This camera is currently being used as part of a testing exercise to assess system operation and performance. This testing exercise will continue into early 2017.

The camera will not be generating offences during this testing period however drivers should be aware that speed limits will be enforced by Police Scotland in the normal manner. When the testing period is complete and enforcement commences, further roadside, online and media communication will be provided.

Hard shoulder bus lanes

To help promote and encourage use of public transport within the FRC project, bus lanes are provided on the southbound M90 in Fife and on the southbound M9 in the vicinity of M9 Junction 1A. These will operate on a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week basis.

Fixed plate signs will be used to advise road users of the presence of a bus lane. The use of bus lanes is legally restricted to buses and coaches constructed to carry 24 seated passengers or more. Any buses that do not meet this requirement, or any other vehicles, are prohibited from using these bus lanes.

In case of breakdown or emergency:

  • The bus lane is always accessible as a hard shoulder to any vehicle involved in a breakdown or emergency. When this happens buses will be diverted to the normal traffic lanes
  • In an emergency, one of the emergency refuge areas next to the bus lane/hard shoulder should be used. These emergency refuge areas have emergency roadside telephones with a direct connection to the Traffic Scotland Control Centre
  • If you can't reach an emergency refuge area in your vehicle, the hard shoulder is always available. Should you require a telephone, follow the directions on the roadside marker posts
  • If you use your mobile, dial 112 or 999 to contact the emergency services

Further information

You can learn more about the FRC Intelligent Transport System from the M9/M90 bus lane leaflet (PDF, 1 MB) and the M9/M90 ITS leaflet (PDF, 1 MB).

For real-time traffic information visit the Traffic Scotland website.

Public transport

The FRC project enables the existing Forth Road Bridge to be maintained as a dedicated public transport corridor as part of a Managed Crossing strategy (PDF, 4 MB). It will carry public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.  In the future it could also be adapted to carry a Light Rapid Transit system.

This strategy will deliver substantial benefits to users of public transport through increased capacity and more reliable journey times.

Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP at the opening of Halbeath Park and Ride

An associated Public Transport Strategy for the scheme was first published in January 2010, in conjunction with SEStran and the relevant local authorities. It seeks to ensure integration with public transport and encourage modal shift from cars to public transport. A Refreshed Strategy (PDF, 158 KB) was prepared in 2012 by:

  • Confederation of Passenger Transport – Scotland
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Fife Council
  • First Bus Group - South East & Central Scotland
  • Lothian Buses; ScotRail
  • SEStran;
  • Stagecoach East Scotland
  • West Lothian Council
  • Transport Scotland

Halbeath Park & Ride is a bus park & ride scheme from the west of Fife to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is a joint initiative, developed by Fife Council and Transport Scotland as part of the FRC Project.

Construction started in winter 2012 and the site opened in November 2013 at a cost of £9.5m.

The scheme's construction was funded by Transport Scotland and European Regional Development Fund. The facility is operated as a partnership between Fife Council and Stagecoach in Fife. The Council provides, maintains and manages the infrastructure while Stagecoach operates most of the bus services and staffs the facility.

With 'sister' park & ride site at Ferrytoll - a few miles to the south - regularly reaching capacity, Halbeath Park & Ride will offer additional capacity for Edinburgh commuters, an alternative interchange for travellers to Edinburgh Airport as well as journeys across Fife and longer distance coach services.

Scroll to top