Leader comment: Don’t get blown off course by delays

The opening of the Queensferry Crossing has already been postponed from last December. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
The opening of the Queensferry Crossing has already been postponed from last December. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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We may have to wait a little longer to see the latest wonder of Scotland completed.

Transport Scotland has said a “cast-iron guarantee” that the Queensferry Crossing will open at the end of May is difficult because of recent severe weather.

Cue outraged politicians leaping on bandwagons. But hold on, let’s get some perspective.

The weather in the Forth has indeed been pretty extreme this year, reflected in the most unusual instance of two lorries being blown over on the Forth Road Bridge in two months.

In fact, prevailing conditions have been such a concern to the bridge builders that they included a whole year’s contingency time because of anticipated disruption from strong winds and other bad weather.

All that time and more has now been used up, which has already forced the bridge opening to be delayed from last December, underlining the challenge faced.

At the same time, there is no longer any immediate threat to the strength of the Forth Road Bridge’s main support cable, which could have forced a lorry ban, and which triggered the new crossing in the first place.

As a result, there is no point at this stage to go hell for leather to meet the timetable if it risks creating an unsafe structure or one with construction problems of its own.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency has also ensured the cost of any delays are borne by the contractors, at no cost to the taxpayer - as it has with other major road schemes.

The Queensferry Crossing will be another engineering marvel with which Scotland will be proud. Getting the job finished properly must be the priority.