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The Third Forth Bridge

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In Divisive Times We Take a Look at Building Bridges – Literally


NOW spanning the full unbroken distance between Fife and Lothian, we are in touching distance of seeing the first vehicle making the 1.7 mile journey over the Forth on the much anticipated, and less nattily named, Forth Replacement Crossing.

In December, we reached, and promptly moved past, the original completion date for the Road Bridge’s shiny new replacement.

While the new crossing’s delay is frustrating, it is due to extreme weather which, even in Scotland, could not be foreseen. The same can be said of the faults in the old bridge as the damage done by a hugely increased payload over the years had been worse than originally feared.

Last year’s pre-Christmas chaos serves as a reminder to all of the importance of prior planning.

The third Forth bridge was first proposed way back in the 90s but not made a priority until the discovery of structural issues in 2005 when the urgency of the matter became more clear. From that point the wheels of government and engineering jerked into movement and some 20 odd years after the idea was first mooted we are expecting completion.

While we would all like things to move faster, the most telling lesson from this saga is the fact that impetus was only given to the Queensferry Crossing when it became clear that the old bridge was not going to be able to hold out much longer.

A squeeze on finances inevitably leads to governments holding off releasing funds where they can help it, but on this occasion it paid dearly.

“A stitch in time saves nine”

This way of thinking will have value beyond the everyday – in fact, should we not expect frugality from our authorities? Sometimes a cost up-front is much smaller than one postponed.

Had the bridge been given greater priority when its decreasing lifespan was first raised, perhaps we would have not lost £50 million from the Scottish economy last winter.

So let us resolve to cure our infrastructure issues in a timely manner.

Many of Scotland’s key roads are already a state but they can only go one way without swift and directed investment.

149 segments of bridge deck, 200 metres in height and 40 metres wide is in impressive feat and a marvellous sight, but we need to ensure that the smaller jobs are taken care of too.

The 20 mph zone in the Scottish capital will calm traffic but accidents will persist if potholes continue to damage vehicles using our battered roads.

Let us put our first (and best) foot forward and begin to address the pressing issues before commuters face the short end once more.

The new bridge will carry motor-cycles, cars and heavy goods vehicles, while public transport, cyclists and pedestrians will use the existing bridge – a drop in journey times will surely ring some good news in uncertain times.


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