Ministers accused of being 'feckless'
Faults ‘were known’ ahead of Crossing opening
Queensferry Crossing: one lane closing for repairs
Transport Scotland has told MSPs that it knew of faults with the Queensferry Crossing in August prior to its opening.
But a decision was made to press ahead to avoid more criticism over delays, it has been claimed.
Problems with the surface of the bridge, caused by workman error, have now caused the bridge to close temporarily in one direction. It will shut for five days from Thursday (30th). The road surface around the bridge’s expansion joints was laid too high.
Southbound traffic will be switched to the Forth Road Bridge from 10pm Thursday until 6am next Wednesday. Northbound traffic will continue to use the Queensferry Crossing, with the speed limit reduced to 40mph.
It has now emerged that lane restrictions will be in place for the next 10 months because of “snagging” issues.
Transport Scotland also told the Scottish Parliamentary Committee on Rural Economy and Connectivity that there could be further lane closures yet until September 2018 for other “finishing and snagging” works.
Scottish Tories say none of these issues were included in information to the public during the launch of the crossing and despite knowing about the potential closure in August, motorists were only told of the closures on Monday of this week, with just a few days’ notice.
Commenting on the revelations, Jamie Green, Scottish Conservative transport spokesman said: “Motorists and commuters must be dismayed. This SNP government opened the bridge with a £1.5m celebration party and used it as a symbol of their stewardship of the country.
“All the while they knew that there were problems with the road surface, that these problems would have to be fixed and the bridge would have to be closed shortly after opening it.
“At no point were road users, whose daily lives are now thrown into disarray, informed that there were impending closures. To make matters worse, we now know that there are potentially more closures to come. Commuters just wanted a bridge that would get them to work on time.
“There are some serious questions to be answered. It is abundantly clear that the SNP was far more preoccupied with spending taxpayers money on party planning than actually delivering a vital infrastructure development fit for purpose from day one.
“This bridge fiasco is absolutely symbolic of a feckless SNP government which thrives on self-congratulatory indulgence at the expense of the tax-paying public.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “During the lavish fanfare of the opening back in September the Scottish Government made no reference to the fact this would have to be fixed.
“Cutting the ribbon on the bridge was rushed to avoid financial penalties or adding to the existing eight month delay.
“It is an insult to the public that ministers didn’t tell them closures were on the way. We need to know exactly what other works are in the pipeline to make the bridge fully operational and how this will impact upon its users.
“Closing the southbound lane for days will cause further disruption for my constituents. I have persistently suggested that the Forth Road Bridge be used in the event of snagging issues and was criticised for this suggestion by the Scottish Government.
“I’m glad to see they’ve changed their mind but, considering what we know now, this could have been announced sooner.”