AN EXPERT panel drawing up a shortlist of possible names for the Forth Replacement Crossing will have to pore over more than 6,000 entries, it was revealed yesterday.
The number has doubled in a month, with the contest that was launched in November closing today.
The news came as leaders of the £1.6 billion project, due to be finished at the end of 2016, said it remained on time and budget.
However, they also admitted that, one quarter of the way through the scheme, they had also used one quarter of the contingency time, such as for bad weather delays.
The seven-strong independent naming panel will have to whittle the entries down to about five, to be put to a public vote in May.
Analysis by The Scotsman of 3,000 entries – half those submitted so far – unsurprisingly showed that “Forth” cropped up the most frequently among suggestions – 618 times.
Other popular terms included “Queen”, in 184 entries, such as in reference to Elizabeth, or Margaret. Scotland was included in 117 entries, Fife in 104, Gateway and Scots in 81, Scottish in 64, Kingdom in 63 and Queensferry in 62. Numbering the bridge also featured in many entries, with third or 3rd appearing in 73, fourth or 4th in 50 and fifth or 5th in 34.
Independence – spelled in various ways – featured in at least 25 entries, Hope in 30 and Freedom in 20.
Famous Scots included (William) Wallace in 35 entries, (Robert) Burns in 26, (Sir Chris) Hoy in 16, (Robert the) Bruce in 11, (Sir Sean) Connery in ten, and even Dolly the Sheep creator Professor Ian Wilmut in one. The entries also included a plethora of the humorous, offbeat and bizarre, such as Forth Road Monster, The Fenomenal Forth, The suspence of independence, Forth Road Bridge Jnr, Higgs-Boson Bridge, Go Forth and Water Way to Go.
Last-minute suggestions can be submitted at www.namethebridge.co.uk today.
The winner – the short-listed entry with the most votes – is due to be announced in the summer.
The panel comprises representatives of the Scottish Youth Parliament, North Queensferry Community Council, Queensferry and District Community Council, the Institution of Civil Engineers Scotland, Transport Scotland, Historic Scotland and Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Project director David Climie said the new crossing’s towers - which are 160ft higher than the adjacent Forth Road Bridge’s - will start to emerge from the water in six months time. The central of the three towers will take shape first, from June, with the giant concrete legs starting to appear above their foundations.
Over two weeks this summer, the central tower’s foundations will feature the biggest underwater concrete pouring operation in the world, when an 18,000 cubic metre “plug” is created to seal the bottom of the caisson, or steel cylinder, which anchors the tower to the riverbed.
Once the towers are in place, sections of the bridge deck will be lifted into place with floating cranes.
These will be supported by cables fanning out from near the tops of the towers, in a Christmas tree shape.
Mr Climie said: The project is very much on track for completion at the end of 2016.
“The job continues on time and on budget.”
Mr Climie added that roadworks would cause only minor disruption to drivers over the next year, with no repeat of the delays on the A90, M90 and M9 during work last year.
However, he said there may be a minor impact on the A904 in South Queensferry during construction of a junction with the bridge’s new approach road.
Mr Climie said the £26 million upgrading of Junction 1a of the M9, which will improve access to the bridge from the west, had been completed early and would be opened tomorrow. Fri
The new bridge has been ordered by ministers concerned about the life expectancy of the 48-year-old Forth Road Bridge, whose main cable has been weakened by corrosion