The Queensferry Crossing sits alongside the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge - three iconic structures spanning three centuries of cutting-edge civil engineering. This section looks at the story of the bridge and how it came to take its place alongside these famous landmarks.
A new bridge
The Forth Road Bridge (FRB) was built in 1964 and had been carefully maintained in the following years. In spite of the significant investment into the bridge, it has shown deterioration in recent years and was no longer deemed viable as the long-term main crossing of the Firth of Forth.
Fixing the Forth Road Bridge wasn't an option. Although technically possible, such a procedure would have taken seven to nine years, severely disrupting traffic and negatively impacting the economy of Scotland.
In 2006-7, Transport Scotland carried out the Forth Replacement Crossing Study to examine a wide range of options for replacing the FRB. The result of this study was the decision, announced in December 2007, to build a new cable-stayed bridge to the west of the FRB.
This decision came with the necessarily tight deadline of end 2016 - the study showed the potential need to restrict Heavy Good Vehicles from the FRB. On 29 March 2017, it was announced that completion of the Queensferry Crossing by May 2017 was no longer achievable following a detailed programme review and the FRC Project then had a range of mid-July to end of August 2017 for the opening to traffic date. The Queensferry Crossing opened to traffic in August 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.
Managed Crossing Strategy
One of the innovations of the FRC Project was the introduction of an efficient Managed Crossing Strategy. This strategy, which was announced by Scottish Ministers in December 2008, proposed the use of the existing FRB for continued public benefit.
When the Queensferry Crossing opened as a motorway in February 2018, the FRB became a dedicated public transport corridor carrying buses, pedestrians and cyclists. In the future it could be adapted to carry a Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system, if that's needed.
This comes with the immediate benefit of freeing up the Queensferry Crossing from larger vehicles such as buses. The reduced weight on the FRB also gives it a longer operational life.
As a result, the Managed Crossing Strategy saved over £1.7 billion from the FRC's original estimated cost of £3.2 to £4.2 billion, which was based on a much wider replacement bridge that included a dual carriageway, dedicated public transport lanes and hard shoulders.
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 Principal 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 £790 million, 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.
Governance structure: This diagram explains the structure of the FRC project in its construction phase: