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History of the project

In 2017 the Queensferry Crossing will take its place alongside its illustrious neighbours, the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge - three iconic bridges spanning three centuries and representing some of the very highest feats of civil engineering achieved in each. This section looks at the background to this major project for Scotland.

A new bridge

Despite significant investment and maintenance since it opened in 1964, the Forth Road Bridge (FRB) has shown signs of significant deterioration in recent years. It is no longer deemed viable as the long-term main crossing of the Firth of Forth.

A computer generated image showing the three bridges spanning the Forth

In 2006-7, Transport Scotland carried out the Forth Replacement Crossing Study - part of the wider Strategic Transport Projects Review - to examine a wide range of options for replacing the FRB.

Responding to the study in December 2007, Scottish Ministers announced their intention to build a new cable stayed bridge to the west of the current FRB by 2016. This challenging timescale was necessary due to the potential need for future restrictions to Heavy Goods Vehicles using the FRB. On 8 June 2016, it was announced that completion of the Queensferry Crossing by the challenging date of the end of 2016 was no longer possible, however, the FRC Project remains on target for the contractual completion date of June 2017.

Transport Scotland immediately began design, procurement and statutory work on the fast tracked scheme – appointing the Jacobs Arup joint venture as design consultants in January 2008.

Regular and extensive engagement and consultation was carried out with a wide range of affected communities and interested parties to inform the development of the project.

Managed Crossing Strategy 

In December 2008, Scottish Ministers announced the innovative and efficient FRC Managed Crossing Strategy.

The main feature was ensuring the existing Forth Road Bridge (FRB) infrastructure is retained and continues to provide public benefit. The FRB will become a dedicated public transport corridor carrying buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

In the future it could also be adapted to carry a Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system, such as a tram.

Retaining limited use of the FRB in this way will also reduce the weight of traffic on it and therefore extends the operational life of the bridge.

This approach immediately delivered a saving of over £1.7 billion on the scheme's original estimated cost of £3.2 to £4.2 billion, which was based on a much wider replacement bridge including dedicated public transport lanes as well as a dual carriageway plus hard shoulders.

The managed crossing strategy has dramatically reduced the total cost of the FRC project, which is estimated to be between £1.325 billion to £1.35 billion as of Winter 2015.

Legislation and procurement in tandem

The Forth Crossing Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament in November 2009, the same month as the procurement process – one of the biggest the Scottish Government had ever undertaken – got under way.

Following extensive Parliamentary scrutiny throughout 2010, the Forth Crossing Act was granted Royal Assent in January 2011.

The Pricipal Contract to design and build the new bridge and connecting roads was awarded in April 2011 to the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) consortium with a successful tender price of £790m, significantly below the original estimated price range of £900 - £1.2 billion. 

The contract to install the project's Intelligent Transport System (ITS) on the M90 in Fife, north of the new bridge, was awarded in June 2011 to John Graham (Dromore) Ltd. 

On the south side, the contract to upgrade M9 Junction 1a at Kirkliston was awarded in July 2011 to a consortium between John Sisk and Roadbridge. 

View more on the legislation in our document library.

Construction history

Construction of the Queensferry Crossing during 2013

Following the successful legislative and procurement processes, construction mobilisation began in the summer of 2011, with work on the ground getting under way in the early autumn.

By February 2013, both major road upgrade contracts (Fife ITS and M9 Junction 1a) had been delivered on budget and ahead of schedule.

Governance structure: This diagram explains the structure of the FRC project in its construction phase.

Diagram showing the governance structure of the FRC project


Naming the bridge

First Minister Alex Salmond announces the name of the bridge

In November 2012, the Name the Bridge competition was launched to find the permanent name for the new bridge. The hugely popular process generated 7,300 unique name suggestions from the public.

An independent panel identified a shortlist and a public vote was held in the spring of 2013.

More than 35,000 votes were cast, with the First Minister Alex Salmond announcing Queensferry Crossing as the winner in June 2013.  

View the Scottish Government press release.


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