10 months of issues at Queensferry Crossing
29 November 2017, 17:22
More lane restrictions will be in place on the Queensferry Crossing over the next 10 months due to "snagging" issues.
Transport Scotland announced on Monday the new £1.35 billion bridge over the Firth of Forth would close on Thursday, for five days of surfacing works to be carried out.
But the body's director responsible for the structure, Michelle Rennie, has said further restrictions will be enforced at times up until September.
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament's rural economy and connectivity committee on Wednesday, she said: "We have been consistently saying that there will be finishing and snagging works required.
"The contract allows for those works to happen up until next September, at no additional cost.
"There will some additional works going on. There will be some lane restrictions happening between now and then."
The upcoming closure comes as part of attempts to have the bridge ready for the increased pressure a 70mph limit would have on the structure.
Ms Rennie told the committee these issues were known about in August, but a solution was not found until a "couple of weeks" ago.
Expert advice said the crossing was safe for users despite these issues, but works would need to be carried out before increasing the limit.
Motorists will be able travel northbound, but those heading south will use the Forth Road Bridge.
Both crossings will have a 40mph limit in place during this period.
The timing of the announcement by Transport Scotland has been criticised for being sudden.
Jamie Greene MSP, Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, said: "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."
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton added: "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."
However, Ms Rennie said the short time frame was necessary so the body could get accurate weather forecasts to minimise work disruption.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said although future lane restrictions were possible, timings of such measures had not been identified.
He added it is likely the works would be carried out overnight and using the hard shoulder as a lane was one option available, rather than using the old bridge.
It is still expected the new crossing will have a 70mph limit in place by December, if weather permits the works to be carried out.
The bridge was officially opened by the Queen in September after six years of construction work.