THE Queensferry Crossing has improved the reliability of journeys across the Firth of Forth in the year since it opened, according to new analysis.
Transport Scotland said the wind shields and hard shoulders on the new bridge helped reduce the impact of high winds, accidents and breakdowns in contrast to the long delays experienced in the past on the Forth Road Bridge.
The £1.34 billion crossing over the Firth of Forth opened to traffic on August 30 last year as a replacement for traffic using the Forth Road Bridge (FRB), coming in under budget but completed eight months later than first estimated.
Since the new bridge opened, there have been 14 occasions when the FRB would have had to close to high sided vehicles, Transport Scotland said.
On the Queensferry Crossing it typically takes around one hour to restore normal traffic conditions following an incident, compared to one to five hours on the FRB.
An Audit Scotland report published earlier this month found the Queensferry Crossing project was managed effectively and delivered value for money.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The recent Audit Scotland report recognised the Queensferry Crossing as having delivered its objective of providing a more reliable road link between the Lothians and Fife.
“One year on since opening the new bridge, we are today providing further evidence that shows how reliability of journeys over the Forth have improved in the last twelve months.
“This is in sharp contrast to the lengthy delays seen in the past on the Forth Road Bridge, where an accident or breakdown resulted in huge tailbacks and much longer journeys over the bridge and the surrounding road networks.
“The impacts of incidents on the Queensferry Crossing have been much reduced by making use of the hard shoulders to assist in quicker response times in the recovery of vehicles and allowing for the ability to maintain two lanes of traffic.
“There are clear and significant economic benefits from this reliable crossing for both industry and commuters alike, I am pleased to see this has been recognised by the road haulage industry today.”
However he said the fact the contractor is still carrying out remedial and finishing work at night has an impact on those travelling outside of peak hours and has asked Transport Scotland officials to obtain an update on the work.
The road haulage industry said the new bridge has been of benefit to the Scottish economy.
Seamus Leheny, Freight Transport Association policy manager, said: “At a time when reliable trading links across the country, and with the rest of Europe, are more critical than ever before, the Queensferry Crossing has quickly established itself as a vital component in the UK’s supply chain.
“Its ability to remain open when other options are closed by the severe weather conditions frequently experienced in this part of the world are a godsend for businesses on both sides of the border.”
Martin Reid of the Road Haulage Association added: “The importance of road transport to the Scottish economy and its supply chain cannot be overstated and so the Forth Crossing is a vital route to cities and major conurbations along the East Coast.”