TRANSPORT bosses are considering fast-tracking a speed limit increase on the Queensferry Crossing to deal with congestion.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf faced questions at Holyrood on the traffic jams which have affected both sides of the new £1.35 billion bridge across the Forth since it opened.
Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton called for the Forth Road Bridge to be temporarily re-opened to help cope with the extra traffic.
He said: “My constituents should not have to endure another weekend such as the one that we have just had with many waiting hours in traffic and some even losing income.”
Mr Yousaf said there were “difficulties” with re-opening the old road bridge to motorists and said steps were being taken to combat congestion on the new crossing, which includes tourist traffic.
He said: “The first days of operation of the Queensferry Crossing have resulted in increased congestion including outside of peak hours, most noticeably last Sunday.
“While this is typical of initial traffic patterns seen on newly opened major bridges the following steps are being taken to reduce this congestion.”
He said signs had been erected at either end of the new crossing to encourage drivers to use the full length of the sliproad to merge into traffic in a bid to cut delays.
He added: “Consideration is also being given to raising the speed limit from 40mph to 50mph as soon as the central reserve barrier installion has been completed and it is safe to do so.”
He continued: “We are confident that with the variable messaging signs that we have put in place, as well as the other measures we have taken, that we are are seeing an improving picture.
“Reports from the Monday AM peak, Monday PM peak and the Tuesday PM peak of this week have shown fewer delays and much reduced delay time as well.”
The 40mph limit on the new bridge and approaches was expected to be in place for up to six weeks while work takes place to change the Forth Road Bridge into a public transport corridor, after which the new bridge speed limit would increase to 70mph.
The Queensferry Crossing re-opened to vehicles overnight into Thursday, ahead of the morning rush hour, having first opened to traffic on August 30 and then closed for celebrations between September 1 and 6, with vehicles using the Forth Road Bridge instead.
The Queen formally opened the bridge on September 4, the culmination of a series of events marking the opening of the structure, the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.
RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: “With the opening of a new landmarkin Scotland, an increase in traffic was always likely from day one simplybecause of the novelty attraction of a new bridge – but nearly a week on thereare still significant delays and drivers are starting to ask why.
“Increasing the speed limit from 40mph to 50mph would be a good temporary step towards the eventual 70mph limit. Re-opening the old Forth bridge to vehicles also seems like a sensible option if it is practical to do as it will increase overall capacity. Clearly, any action to tackle these terrible jams can’t come soon enough for the thousands of motorists that use the crossing every day.”