The opening of the new Queensferry Crossing has been delayed for a second time
Economy Secretary Keith Brown told MSPs that the date for completion had been pushed back again due to “adverse weather conditions”.
He would not be drawn on reports that contractors had asked for the completion date to be extended to September.
Mr Brown said he would give further details on when the 1.7-mile link across the Forth is expected to open when he appears before the parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee today.
Engineers had originally hoped to open the £1.35billion structure, which is replacing the Forth Road Bridge, last December but that timescale slipped due to poor weather affecting construction.
It’s very important that we both get it right and that we do it safely
Keith Brown – Economy Secretary
Mr Brown was pressed for clarity on the opening date by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser after press reports that the bridge would not be ready by the revised target of the end of May.
The Economy Secretary responded: “Following my recent appearance at the REC committee on March 8, I asked FCBC, the contractor, to carry out a thorough review of their programme through to project completion.
“That work has indicated that adverse weather conditions, particularly wind, has had an impact on the removal of the construction cranes and, therefore, on the estimated completion date.
Engineers had originally hoped to open the £1.35billion structure last December
“Transport Scotland is currently assessing that review carried out by FCBC and I expect to receive a report from them this evening. I’ve agreed to -provide a detailed update to the committee tomorrow morning.”
Mr Fraser asked: “Does he recognise that this is now the second delay there has been in the completion of the bridge? We were promised by the First Minister previously it would be completed by the end of last year, we were then told by the cabinet secretary it would be completed by the end of May, we are now looking at a further delay. When will it be ready?”
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Mr Brown said the seven-year project was around a quarter of a billion pounds below budget “and that won’t change”.
He added: “This bridge will be there for 120 years.
The Forth Bridge in North Queensferry
“It’s very important that we both get it right and that we do it safely.
“I’m sure Murdo Fraser is aware of the conditions in the Forth. For example, it has taken 65 days to actually take down one of the cranes, which would normally have taken 15 days, because of the consistently high winds.
“As soon as the wind speed goes above 25mph, it’s not possible to work on that, so that has contributed to this.”