Queensferry Crossing – a bridge to economic resilience
The Queensferry Crossing will welcome its first traffic on Wednesday morning (30 August), marking the culmination of a momentous journey.
Final preparations are underway on the project, which at almost £250 million under budget, is expected to deliver a timely boost to Scotland’s construction and tourism sectors with international media, business, potential investors and commentators, all poised to witness this significant milestone. Using this fantastic platform, a Forth Bridges Tourism strategy is also due to be unveiled later this year which will seek to tap into the three bridges as a unique setting and world-leading visitor destination.
The bridge has been a catalyst for employment and business opportunities since work began. Over 15,000 people have been inducted to work on the construction site since 2011, clocking up over 18 million hours of work in the process. Thousands more have been indirectly employed and have benefited through the project’s supply chain. Scottish firms have been awarded sub-contracts or supply orders on the project with a total value of over £350 million.
The new bridge is expected to lead to a stream of new business looking to acquire land and property in the surrounding areas. It will also help advance tourism opportunities. In excess of 30 non-UK nationalities from around the world were represented within the ballot entries for the Queensferry Crossing Experience. Around 50,000 people are expected to walk the new structure next weekend (2/3 September) ahead of the Official Opening on 4 September by HM The Queen.
The project hasn’t been without its challenges, with unfavourable weather impacting on delivery dates. Despite those hurdles, those behind the project have maintained a focus on delivery throughout, highlighting that the overrun has amounted to 10 weeks over a 6 year project in relation to the project completion date. They argue that safety has been paramount throughout the construction of this structure which will last for well over 100 years with generations to come benefitting from this work. The revised completion date will have no impact on the overall budget as the contractor is responsible for all costs associated with the over-run.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown, said:
“It will be with a real sense of pride that all those involved with this project will witness traffic crossing the bridge this week. To think that the crossing has been completed six years from the date construction started and ten years since Parliament approved legislation is a remarkable achievement for a project of this scale and complexity. The challenges of this location have been well-documented and the real heroes are those who have braved the elements in sometimes horrendous conditions to finish the job.
“This project has released £245 million of savings back into the Scottish Budget since construction began. Quite often we see and hear of projects running significantly over budget, so I believe we should be proud of this achievement and take confidence going forward. Of course these savings are in addition to those achieved during contract procurement which reduced the forecast by £512 million from the outset. I am looking forward to seeing all of the hard work and investment pay off and to unlocking the benefits that this magnificent new piece of infrastructure will deliver to local communities and to Scotland as a whole.”
Project Director David Climie said:
“I’ve worked on projects across the globe and I can safely say that this has been one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding. It’s been a real roller coaster of emotions but the over-riding emotion at the moment is one of pride. Until you’ve actually been out on the bridge during severe winds it’s hard to appreciate the task at hand of delivering such a complex project. Experts from across the globe have marvelled at this achievement and so it’s nice to think there will be some recognition at home for the workforce this week too.”
SCDI Chief Executive, Mark Bevan commented:
“The Queensferry Crossing is a key addition to Scotland’s transport infrastructure which will safeguard and strengthen Scotland’s economic prosperity. The problems experienced with the existing bridge have highlighted why this new infrastructure was necessary to provide resilient connectivity for people and goods on this major artery of our economy. SCDI strongly supported the building of a new crossing and will continue to engage with our members on the future mobility needs of the Scottish economy. Everyone involved in the opening of this majestic addition to the bridges over the Forth should be proud of their achievement, and SCDI is sure that it will continue to be inspirational for those who use and visit it, especially those who would like to develop the skills to meet our next infrastructure challenges.”