Jerry Stewart: Finally, we are bridging the gap in infrastructure

The Queensferry Crossing will benefit commuters and business. Picture: Greg Macvean.
The Queensferry Crossing will benefit commuters and business. Picture: Greg Macvean.
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TWENTY minutes (roughly) can now be saved by ­commuters making the journey between Scotland’s two biggest cities, now that the bulk of the £500 million M8 upgrades are ­complete.

This is fantastic news for weary travellers caught between hectic jobs and busy social lives and for businesses reliant on our country’s ­infrastructure – those buses, taxis, couriers or anyone who uses the car for work.

In an increasingly fast-paced world, the minutes matter, stacking up and ­accumulating to precious hours for more work or play.

It is fantastic to be in a ­position where the latest infrastructure venture was completed on time to the ­satisfaction of all.

Now the end is, once more, in sight for the third Forth Bridge following the announcement that it is set to open late August.

Here’s hoping that the wind barriers and a hard shoulder will also see a reduction in partial and full closures – which, when you consider that the 2015 closure cost taxpayers a reported £16m at least, highlights the economic damage, if not the impact on the lives of those reliant on the crossing.

Scotland’s infrastructure is sorely lacking in places but finally we are starting to see the main routes catch up with the 21st century.

The Queensferry Crossing offers a microcosm of what is both good and bad about Scotland’s arterial highways. It has missed some deadlines after the initial struggle to put plans into action in the first place but now that we can see the light at the end of, what maybe should have been, the tunnel, things are looking brighter.

The M8 too received a rude awakening when poor ­weather in 2010 exposed an embarrassing shortfall in what is probably our most important route.

We have undoubtedly ­taken too long to make these updates down to lack of ­foresight, a lack of funding or a combination of the two.

What is done is done and we must make sure we don’t find ourselves in the same ­situation in a year or a ­decade’s time. Whether they are motorways, single-tracks or ­anything in between, many of our roads need some TLC – so let’s show it.

In August, fingers crossed, the 149 segments of bridge deck, 200m in height and 40m wide will open and ease our battered roads. We are glad to be nearing the end of the journey.

We should all celebrate the new bridge and improvements to the M8– but wouldn’t it be great if we invested in infrastructure upgrades before costly, ­frustrating problems arise?

And if we face more delays? Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Jerry Stewart is co-director at Eagle Couriers – Scotland’s ­largest independent courier firm.