ONE of three shortlisted bidders for the controversial contract to run the Forth Road Bridge and adjacent new Queensferry Crossing from 2015 - Scotland TranServ - has pulled out, it emerged today.
TranServ said no one was immediately available to comment, but there have been industry concerns that the £40-60 million contract would not be profitable.
The consortium, which currently maintains motorways and trunk roads in Glasgow and south west Scotland, is a partnership between Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering and infrastructure management firm Mouchel.
It was competing against Amey, which maintains trunk roads in south east Scotland, and a consortium comprising Ringway, Jacobs and Cofiroute.
They were due to have submitted final tenders by today for the five-year contract from June, with the winner expected to be announced in December.
The move will mean the private sector will operate the Forth Road Bridge for the first time since it was opened 50 years ago.
The local authority-run Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta), which currently runs the crossing, will be scrapped, with its 71 staff transferred to the new operator.
Meetings to discuss bridge matters will move behind closed doors, and councillors, who comprise the Feta board, will be barred from attending.
The new operator will also run the Queensferry Crossing, and the A90 and M90 between the M9 south of the Forth and Halbeath in Fife.
It will answer to the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which is also in charge of the Queensferry Crossing, which is due to open at the end of 2016.
Feta convener Lesley Hinds has said: “We have always believed we should continue as a public body.”
Transport Scotland head of special projects Graham Porteous said the two remaining bidders “have demonstrated a high degree of competence in the tender competition so far.
“Transport Scotland’s target to award the contract in December 2014 remains unchanged.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Forth Bridges Operating Contract tendering process remains in progress and Transport Scotland expects to receive two tender submissions in due course. Two Participants with significant operational and maintenance experience remain part of the robust competitive process for selecting an operating company to run the prestigious Forth Bridges Unit.”