WHEN building a new bridge that will carry millions of motorists across the mighty Firth of Forth, it would seem prudent to adopt a safety-first approach. Yesterday, that approach was extended to its name, when the new Forth Crossing was officially christened the Queensferry Crossing.
The name was chosen from a shortlist of five, which had been whittled down from a longlist of 7,600 monikers put forward by the public.
A voting panel drew up the shortlist after ruling out the more outlandish suggestions such as Kevin (after Kevin Bridges, the comedian), the Rab C Nes-bridge and Waterway to Go.
Eventually, the public were asked to chose between the Queensferry Crossing, Caledonia Bridge, Firth of Forth Crossing, Saltire Crossing and St Margaret’s Crossing.
Queensferry Crossing won a third of 37,000 votes in an online public poll, to emerge as winner. In receiving the most votes, the chosen title triumphed over Caledonia Bridge and Saltire Crossing, two patriotic names which some had thought could be interpreted as political statements in support of the SNP.
In the end, the public chose an uncontroversial name, which reflects the 2.7km bridge’s location, running between the towns of North and South Queensferry on either side of the Forth, as well as a sense of history.
Queensferry Crossing received 12,039 votes, with Caledonia Bridge the next most popular with 10,573.
The new name was announced by First Minister Alex Salmond when he visited South Queensferry to observe progress on the bridge, scheduled to open by the end of 2016. Mr Salmond hailed the area’s historic links to St Margaret, the pious English princess who married King Malcolm III of Scotland and after whom Queensferry was named.
“It was Queen Margaret in the 11th century who introduced a ferry to carry pilgrims across the Forth, giving the communities on either side of the firth their name,” Mr Salmond said.
“The public’s choice of Queensferry Crossing reflects the area’s rich history.
“This project is providing many opportunities for jobs and investment in Scotland and, having visited the works and spoken with those building the Queensferry Crossing and connecting roads, I’ve been impressed by the dedication and expertise of those involved in such a major feat of civil engineering in often challenging weather conditions.
“This part of Scotland is already an internationally renowned location, with two bridges representing the cutting edge of engineering in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively.
“The Queensferry Crossing is a bridge to the future. When complete in 2016, it will take its place alongside the other iconic bridges, while safeguarding and improving a vital connection in the country’s transport network.”
Worries over corrosion issues with the Forth Road Bridge saw plans for a new crossing brought forward, but it has since been found the original bridge can be maintained as a transport link.
The Forth Road Bridge is now nearly 50 years old and carries 24 million vehicles a year – a number that is beyond its capacity. Once the new crossing is completed, the old road bridge will be largely restricted to use by public transport. It will also provide a link for local traffic, including cars, cyclists and pedestrians, once a new lane has been built to link it with the A90.
The new crossing caused a political row when the SNP’s opponents found out that much of the steel for the new bridge would come from China, Spain and Poland, rather than firms with Scottish connections. , such as Tata at Dalzell. By Christmas 2012, moves had been made to ensure that Tata would supply some steel after all.
The Queensferry Crossing takes its name from North Queensferry and South Queensferry, the two towns called after St Margaret of Scotland.
St Margaret first established a ferry across the Firth of Forth about 1,000 years ago for pilgrims travelling to St Andrews and Dunfermline, which was once capital of Scotland.
Originally an English princess, St Margaret was born in exile in Hungary, but returned to England in 1057. Her family fled to Scotland following the Norman conquest. She married Malcolm III of Scotland in 1070.
Known as a very religious woman, she was seen as a civilising influence on her husband and her adopted country.
She died in 1093 and made her final journey by ferry to Dunfermline Abbey. Her son, David I of Scotland, awarded the ferry rights to the abbey.
The ferry remained a feature of life in Scotland down the years until it was superseded by the Forth Road Bridge almost 50 years ago.
The number of votes cast for each nomination are as follows:
• Queensferry Crossing - 12,039, 35.5%
• Caledonia Bridge - 10,573, 31.2%
• St Margaret’s Crossing - 7,146, 21.1%
• Firth of Forth Crossing - 2,087, 6.2%
• Saltire Crossing - 2,046, 6%
• Total verified votes 33,891
• Total unverified votes 3,757
• Total votes cast 37,648