It was announced on June 8, 2016 that the target completion date for the project had changed to May 2017.
A number of common questions have been asked since the announcement, the answers to which have been pulled together in this Q&A document.
See below for more a general list of frequently asked questions.
Why has the scheme been taken forward?
Transport Scotland has set out why the scheme is being taken forward in the Policy Memorandum, submitted with the Forth Crossing Bill in 2009. In summary, as the Forth Road Bridge suffers a number of operational problems and a range of significant maintenance obligations, it cannot be guaranteed to continue to provide the levels of service needed to support social and economic traffic on this important road transport corridor across the Forth.
Why are you pressing ahead with this project rather than repairing the existing bridge?
Though repair of the main cables of the Forth Road Bridge is technically possible, the works would have to take place over a period of between seven to nine years, causing sustained and significant disruption to traffic. Without an alternative crossing in place, this would have a significant impact on the economy of Scotland, particularly on the east coast.
When did construction start and when will the new crossing open?
Construction started in Summer 2011 and the new crossing is expected to open in May 2017.
Will the scheme meet future increased demand for car travel?
Two lanes in each direction are being provided for general traffic on the Queensferry Crossing. The scheme reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment that the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) project will replace, but not increase, the road provision for general traffic across the Firth of Forth. It is not Government policy to provide for unconstrained growth in vehicle traffic and to attempt to do so would be unsustainable.
Future travel growth beyond opening of the FRC will need to be satisfied by increased use of public transport. As a dedicated public transport corridor, the Forth Road Bridge will provide additional infrastructure capacity for sustainable forms of travel.
Why was a tunnel not progressed?
Bridge and tunnel options, including comparative costs, were considered as part of the Forth Replacement Crossing Study, carried out between August 2006 and June 2007. The cable stayed bridge and proposed corridor were selected following consideration of the options in this study.
The reasons for this selection were stated by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth in his statement on 19 December 2007. The Environmental Statement Chapter 3 (Alternatives Considered), provides a summary of the bridge and tunnel options considered, and the justification for taking the bridge option forward.
How much will the scheme cost?
The estimated scheme cost is £1.325 billion to £1.35 billion in outturn costs. This allows for optimism bias and VAT. The principal contract (the bridge and approach roads) was awarded on 21 March 2011 for £790 million.
Is the scheme expensive when compared with similar projects?
A briefing note, produced and published by the Scottish Parliament on 18 February 2010, contains an analysis of international comparison projects. The paper notes that:
"Each bridge faces a unique combination of challenges such as length of crossing, depth of crossing ... These circumstances make it difficult to compare bridges based on cost alone ...since there are unlikely to be projects that are similar enough to take into account the unique combination of challenges faced by each project."
With this caveat, it is noted by the paper that the cost of the Forth Replacement Crossing is on par with other similar bridges such as Rion Antirion, the Mersey Crossing and the Second Severn Crossing, when compared on the basis of weighted cost per usable lane.
Please note this briefing was created using the estimated outturn costs (£1.7bn to £2.3bn) before contracts were awarded.
What makes the replacement bridge more reliable and more resistant to climate and deterioration than the Forth Road Bridge?
The bridge will be of a modern design using the latest techniques and technology. Key features which enhance reliability include:
- Using the latest, most durable materials
- The cables can be replaced with more ease than on the FRB – it can be done as part of normal maintenance works without closing the bridge
- A dehumidification system inside the box girder reduces moisture, preventing corrosion
- Using modern paint systems on the structure
- Use of thicker road surfacing with longer surface life which can be machine laid, making it easier to replace
Will the new bridge close in high winds?
Windshielding will be used on the new bridge to make the crossing less susceptible to closure during high winds. Experience of other estuarial crossings, such as the Second Severn Crossing, shows that wind barriers provide a high degree of reliability against closure.
How high are the towers on the bridge?
The top of the towers will be around 207 metres AOD (above ordinance datum), 145m above deck level. This is 50 metres higher than the FRB main tower.
Why does the crossing have to be motorway standard?
The classification of the replacement crossing as a motorway will prevent a reduced level of service that would arise from use of the crossing by non-motorway traffic
Why are hard shoulders required on the replacement crossing?
The hard shoulder will not be used for general traffic other than in situations when the normal running lanes are closed for maintenance or incidents. Hard shoulders on the replacement crossing and connecting roads will also be used by buses diverted from the existing bridge, for example due to high wind conditions.
How will environmental impacts be mitigated?
An assessment of the environmental impacts of the project, during construction and operation, has been undertaken. Where practicable, mitigation to avoid or reduce these impacts is identified and will be implemented as part of the scheme. Details of potential impacts, mitigation and residual impacts are presented in the Environmental Statement [hyperlink].
These cover: land use; geology, contaminated land and groundwater; the water environment; terrestrial ecology; estuarine ecology; landscape; visual; cultural heritage; air quality; noise and vibration; pedestrians and non-motorised users; vehicle travellers; disruption due to construction; policies and plans; and cumulative.
Four working groups have been put in place to approve all work undertaken by the contractor to ensure the best practical means is used:
- Marine Liaison Group: This group is consulted by the Contractor regarding the proposals to manage construction activities within the Firth of Forth and limit disruption to navigation. It includes representatives from the navigation and harbour authorities, the operator of Rosyth Dockyard and the emergency services.
- Environmental Liaison Group: This group is consulted regarding all other environmental matters defined in the CoCP. It includes representatives from the local authorities, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Marine Scotland and Historic Scotland.
- Traffic Management Working Group: This group is consulted by the Contractor regarding the proposals to limit disruption to the road network. It includes representatives from trunk and local road authorities and the emergency services.
- Noise Liaison Group: This group provides oversight of all aspects of noise planning and control during construction and monitoring. The group includes representatives from each of the relevant local authorities and Scottish Natural Heritage.
How will you minimise the impact on ecology/wildlife?
Potential impacts on marine and terrestrial wildlife have been carefully considered during the design of the Forth Replacement Crossing project.
Scottish Natural Heritage has been consulted throughout the project, regarding the scope and methods of assessment and mitigation to avoid, reduce or offset potential impacts to habitats, species and designated sites from the proposed scheme.
Transport Scotland continues to work with environmental organisations to address specific mitigation measures for wildlife affected by the scheme.
What will Transport Scotland do to reduce noise levels once the scheme is open?
The provision of mitigation has been determined in accordance with the Noise and Vibration Policy [hyperlink], submitted with the Forth Crossing Bill, and the methodology described in the Environmental Statement [hyperlink]. Mitigation includes a low noise road surface where necessary and noise screening, including bunds and barriers up to 4m high. The Environmental Statement shows that the proposed mitigation is effective in mitigating the adverse effects that would arise. Additional mitigation such as roadside noise barriers is only proposed for those areas where significant adverse effects have been forecast.
What will TS do to reduce air pollution once the scheme is open?
The Air Quality Assessment [hyperlink], demonstrates that the Government's Air Quality Strategy objectives and European Union limit values (set for the protection of human health) would be met with or without the proposed scheme at all residential properties.
What will Transport Scotland do to reduce light pollution once the scheme is open?
Future light levels would not be increased by the proposed scheme. The functionality of the installed lighting will allow for dimming and remote control for future energy reduction to support government objectives to reduce carbon emissions, pollution of the night sky and to reduce impacts on the rural landscape where this can be achieved safely and effectively.
What will be done to minimise carbon emissions as a result of the scheme?
Carbon dioxide is considered at a regional level and an increase is anticipated - consistent with the anticipated increase in vehicle kilometres travelled across the regional assessment study area. Off-setting will be required by greater reductions elsewhere in Scotland.
Is the proposed SUDS hygienic and safe?
The proposed Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) has been agreed with SEPA, the regulatory authority for pollution of watercourses. These are dry detention basins that provide temporary storage of runoff rainwater. As such, stagnant water and anaerobic conditions are unlikely to occur and we do not consider there to be impacts relating to smell or health. Regular maintenance, which will remove build up of vegetation and sediment, is required as part of the Environmental Statement commitments. The SUDS detention basins will be fenced off to prevent unauthorised access.
Why does the scheme not provide a direct link to the M9 motorway?
During 2008, Transport Scotland considered a number of alternative options for the southern connecting roads including two options that provided a more direct link between the Queensferry Crossing and the M9. An assessment of the options and the reasoning for their rejection is provided in the DMRB Stage 2 Corridor Report. [hyperlink], In summary, one route did not maximise use of existing resources (i.e. the M9 Spur) while the other dramatically increased flows on the A904 at South Queensferry.
What will be the speed limit?
The speed limit for the new mainline road layout will generally be 70mph with an advisory speed limit of 50 mph, as is presently the case, around the curve at Scotstoun.
What provision has been made for motorcycles?
As a consequence of the motorway status of the bridge, motorcycles with an engine capacity less than 50cc will not be permitted on the Queensferry Crossing. Learner riders with a Compulsory Basic Training certificate will be allowed to use the existing Forth Road Bridge on motorcycles, displaying “L-plates" with an engine capacity of less than 50cc. Those wishing to cross the Forth Replacement Bridge on a motorcycle with an engine capacity of 50cc or greater will have to ensure that they are in possession of a full licence.
What are Intelligent Transport Systems?
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) refers to the use of technology to inform motorists of traffic conditions and regulate traffic flow. The technology includes electronic lane signals, variable message signs, CCTV cameras and speed enforcement cameras that are mounted above the carriageway on overhead gantries.
Why has ITS been included in the scheme?
The current road connections to the existing bridge operate satisfactorily for the majority of the day and generally only suffer from congestion at peak periods. The congestion is caused by the close proximity and number of junctions, particularly on the stretch between Halbeath and the bridge, which generate weaving and stop/start driving as vehicles change lanes and merge with the mainstream traffic. ITS can be used to manage this in the problem peak period, representing a far more cost effective, proportionate and environmentally less damaging solution than road widening.
What benefits will ITS deliver?
ITS will be provided on the entire length of the scheme to improve the flow of traffic and operation of the network. One of the functions of ITS will be to implement mandatory variable speed limits, so that vehicle speeds can be managed during congested periods to limit adverse effects on the road network and any resulting environmental impacts. ITS will allow Transport Scotland to manage traffic flows and respond to incidents by controlling both lane use and vehicle speed. ITS can automatically detect incidents and provide information on the road network.
Why are the public transport and FRC strategies separate?
The Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) sets the overall strategy. This incorporates both public transport measures and the Forth Replacement Crossing project. For the Forth Crossing bill process, Transport Scotland has taken forward those elements which require Parliamentary authorisation. Other issues can be taken forward by others using their existing powers. Transport Scotland is in discussion with the local authorities and SEStrans regarding the development of the public transport strategy to maximise the opportunity created by the scheme to encourage greater use of public transport.
What other public transport initiatives have been considered?
The Forth Road Bridge will become a dedicated public transport corridor creating a significant opportunity for public transport and increasing the reliability of bus journey times across the Forth.
The scheme includes measures to promote the development of public transport services by operators. This includes bus priority measures and park and ride access measures at Ferry Toll park and ride. Dedicated public transport links will be provided at the A90.
Can the scheme accommodate a multi-modal system?
The Forth Road Bridge, as a dedicated public transport corridor, provides the option for introduction of Light Rapid Transit, such as guided bus or tram based light rail.
When might Light Rapid Transit be introduced?
A light rapid transit system between Edinburgh and Fife is one of the 29 projects proposed as part of the STPR which has identified projects for the period 2012 onwards.
Have the needs of walkers, runners and cyclists been considered?
Non motorised users and recreational use in the area has been considered throughout the development of the proposed scheme. As a result, the scheme incorporates new sections of footpaths, cycleways and safe crossing points to maintain these routes and minimise potential increase in journey length for users. No significant impacts on non-motorised road users are expected. In fact, retaining the Forth Road Bridge - but with general traffic removed - will improve the experience for pedestrians and cyclists across the Forth.
What will Transport Scotland do to reduce the impacts of construction – e.g. noise, pollution and vibration?
A Health Impact Assessment considered the effects of construction and operational issues such as noise, dust, vehicle emissions, loss of green space and visual impacts on the health and wellbeing of local communities. No measurable health effects on the community are predicted to occur.
The Code of Construction Practice, part of the Forth Crossing Bill, sets out measures to provide high levels of protection for communities during construction works. The measures are not just guidance, they are an integral part of the Forth Crossing Bill and all construction activities required as part of the scheme construction must be undertaken in accordance with the Code.
The contractor is required to plan and undertake construction works to limit the effect of the scheme on adjacent residents and communities, and there is an overarching requirement to ensure that impacts are not worse than those described in the Environmental Statement. The contractor will have to provide such mitigation measures as may be necessary to ensure this is the case.
What are the proposed working hours on the project?
The normal working hours for the roads element are Monday to Saturday 8am to 7pm hours with a 30 minutes start up period from 7.30am to 8am. The proposed working hours for the marine works are 7am to 7pm.
Will there be 24 hour working?
Continuous working will be necessary for certain marine works. Evening or night time working on the road network connections will only be required in isolated instances or exceptional circumstances.
Who will police the contractor?
The contractor will be required to undertake monitoring as is necessary to comply and be able to demonstrate compliance with the Code of Construction Practice, and Environmental Statement.
Scottish Ministers will take a significant and leading role in terms of ensuring compliance with environmental mitigation requirements by providing a site-based team who will monitor that the works being undertaken are in accordance with the Environmental Statement. The Scottish Ministers will have the authority, through the construction contract, to enforce compliance with the Code of Construction Practice and, for example, to halt works which are not being undertaken in accordance with the contract. Enforcement and/or sanctions may also be imposed by regulatory bodies in line with their statutory responsibilities and powers.
Will access be maintained during construction?
The Code of Construction Practice explains that access must be maintained unless provided for in the Act or agreed with the relevant roads authority or occupiers. The Act does not allow for the closure of existing access unless a new access is provided first. The contractor will be required to maintain access to homes throughout the construction period.
What will Transport Scotland do to minimise impacts from construction traffic?
The contractor is required to prepare a Traffic Management Plan, in consultation with the local authorities. A Traffic Management Working Group has been formed which will include the trunk and local road authorities and the emergency services. This group will review the contractor's traffic management proposals to provide assurance that construction works will be undertaken in line with the objectives set out in the Code of Construction Practice (CoCP).
While construction works will lead to additional traffic on some roads, the assessment has not indicated that there will be an unacceptable level of additional impact. The CoCP requires the contractor to develop and implement a Green Travel Plan which will seek to reduce the effects of construction staff travelling to the site on the road network. The CoCP also includes measures which place restrictions on parking.
Where are the construction compounds located?
The principal contract offices are located to the west of Ferrytoll Junction with satellite compounds in Echline Field, South Queensferry and in Queensferry House and Admirals House, North Queensferry. A site has also been created within Forth Ports for the marine works.
How will disruption to road users on the main carriageway be minimised?
Two lanes each way will be maintained so that peak traffic flows are not compromised. The appointed contractors must ensure their designs can be built while maintaining existing traffic flows efficiently and safely.
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How does the project engage with the public?
Details of our engagement strategy can be found in Engaging with Communities, and in our complaints procedure. A manned 24-hour free-phone hotline has also been set up to allow members of the public to contact the contractors directly.
Where can I find out more about the project?
The Contact and Education Centre, has been established adjacent to the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) offices in South Queensferry to allow members of the public to contact the contractors in person. The centre, which includes a bookable exhibition area for the duration of construction, was opened in early 2012.
How was name of the new Queensferry Crossing chosen?
An independent advisory committee, chaired by the Minister for Housing and Transport and supported by Transport Scotland officials, was established to oversee the naming process for the new Forth Replacement Crossing. In November 2012, the public were asked to submit suggestions for a name for the new bridge. The Advisory Committee selected a shortlist of suitable potential names from those submitted by the public.
In Spring 2013, the public voted for their favourite name from the shortlist. More than 35,000 votes were cast and in June 2013, the winning name Queensferry Crossing was announced.
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How many properties does this scheme affect?
By using existing infrastructure and road alignments as far as possible, Transport Scotland has been able to reduce the impacts on properties and land. We do not plan to demolish any property.
What compensation is allowed in the Act?
The compensation provisions [hyperlink], in the Act are the same as those that exist through current legislation. Those people who believe that they are affected by the scheme may wish to take legal advice as to the appropriate course of action in respect of their interests.
What compensation is available for the reduction in property prices as a result of this scheme?
Homeowners may be entitled to claim compensation if they can show that the value of their property has been significantly reduced by physical factors caused by the construction or subsequent use of the Forth Replacement Crossing project. Different legal rules and procedures apply depending on whether they wish to claim as a result of the Forth Replacement Crossing construction works or from the Forth Replacement Crossing operation.
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How will the project be procured and funded?
A capital funded, design and build process for procuring the new crossing was selected as providing good value for money, and less risk than alternative approaches, with the greatest guarantee of provision of the bridge by the end of 2016.
How is the contract split?
Principal Contract: Construction of the new crossing and approach roads north/south of the Forth and ITS to be installed over these sections. Expected construction completion is May 2017.
Contract awarded to Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) in March 2011.
Junction 1a M9: Improvements to Junction 1a of the M9 near Kirkliston and installation of ITS from Newbridge to South Queensferry. Awarded in July 2011 to John Sisk / Roadbridge Joint Venture at a contract price of £25.6 million. Construction was completed early 2013.
Fife Intelligent Transport System (ITS): At North Queensferry, the B981 will be realigned to connect directly onto the Ferrytoll Road. This will provide a more reliable, simpler and safer access for local traffic travelling to and from North Queensferry both during and after construction of the crossing.
At the same time, a dedicated northbound slip road from the Ferrytoll roundabout onto the M90 has been added to the design. Castlandhill Road will be realigned and kept separate from the junction, providing dedicated local access to Rosyth.
ITS installed between Halbeath and Admiralty Junctions on M90 (Fife). The contract was awarded to John Graham (Dromore) Ltd in May 2011 at a contract price of £12.9 million. Construction was completed in December 2012.
Will there be jobs created in Scotland?
Tendering legislation demands that the construction of the project be open to international competition. The contractors are required to advertise subcontract and supply opportunities through the Public Contracts Scotland website and the Principal Contract includes an annual average of 45 vocational training positions, 21 professional body training places and 46 positions for the long term unemployed.