First Minister Salmond opens £120 million Clackmannshire Bridge

A NEW £120 million crossing over the Firth of Forth was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond today.

The Clackmannanshire Bridge was built in a bid to reduce traffic on and around the existing Kincardine Bridge.

Around 20,000 vehicles a day are expected to use the new crossing – which is three quarters of a mile long and weighs in at more than 32,000 tonnes.

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The bridge was named after the local authority – Scotland's smallest – following a campaign backed by thousands of people.

A convoy of vehicles, including an electric car and a bicycle, crossed over it as part of the opening ceremony this morning.

And Mr Salmond said the bridge would provide a "unique gateway" to the Clackmannanshire, Fife and Falkirk areas.

Improvements to the connecting trunk road network have been carried out as part of the project, with 3.6 miles of roads and three miles of cycleways constructed.

Speaking at the opening Mr Salmond said: "This is a world-class infrastructure project which will cut journey times, improve central Scotland connections, and provide a unique gateway to Clackmannanshire, Fife and Falkirk."

He added: "For local communities the Clackmannanshire Bridge will deliver not only visitors, but safer roads and environmental benefits.

"It will remove the long-standing congestion from the centre of Kincardine, encourage safe cycling, whilst benefiting local businesses."

Approximately 30,100 vehicles a day cross the Kincardine Bridge at the moment – but the opening of the new crossing is expected to reduce that to 18,100.

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And it is hoped that the number of vehicles passing through the village of Kincardine will fall from 16,500 a day at the moment to just 2,800 – a drop of more than 80%.

During the construction special measures were taken to reduce the impact of the scheme on wildlife in the area, including the creation of additional mudflats and saltmarsh to provide alternative roosting and feeding areas for wintering birds.