The Queensferry Crossing has improved reliability, transport bosses said as figures revealed it has remained open on 20 occasions when the Forth Road Bridge would have been forced to close.
The new bridge was fitted with wind barriers to allow traffic to continue to cross in bad weather after persistent closures on its predecessor affecting high-sided vehicles.
The wind shielding on the Crossing is doing exactly what it was intended to doMICHAEL MATHESON
Transport Scotland said the bridge has withstood high winds on 20 occasions over the 16 months since it opened, while journey times have also settled on the new route.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The wind shielding on the Queensferry Crossing is doing exactly what it was intended to do. There have now been 20 occasions since the new bridge opened when the Forth Road Bridge would have had to close to high-sided vehicles.
“This improved reliability is delivering benefits for the economy, businesses and commuters.
“This latest set of figures is continued evidence of the improved reliability of the new bridge for those using this vitally important strategic road link across the Forth.
“Around this time last year the initial speed limits on the bridge were lifted, and followed by motorway regulations coming into force in the early part of this year. Since then traffic flows have continued to settle down. Now we are seeing consistent journey times in both directions over the Forth, it takes seven to eight minutes in normal traffic conditions and around 15 minutes in both directions at peak times.
“These journey times are now at the level we would expect for a road of this type and speed limit in the prevailing traffic conditions.”
Martin Reid, policy director of the Road Haulage Association, said: “The Queensferry Crossing has stayed open in cases where high winds would have shut the Forth Road Bridge and that has been absolutely vital in maintaining the fluid movement of goods.
“Our industry makes a massive contribution to Scotland’s GDP and the importance of its supply chain cannot be overstated, but without fluid movement around the road network then our task is made all the more difficult.”
The news comes, however, just days after Drivers on the bridge were warned they are facing yet more delays after officials admitted work to complete the bridge had been delayed for a third time.
The Scottish Government revealed that contractors will not finish all those tasks due by the end of the year and had also found extra work was needed.
It means lane closures which have caused evening tailbacks could be extended further.
Snagging and finishing work on the £1.35 billion bridge between Edinburgh and Fife was originally due to have been completed in September – a year after it opened.
However, this was later put back to October next year. The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said works including some painting, lighting and concreting will continue into 2019.