TRANSPORT chiefs are being forced to close half of the Queensferry Crossing for five days starting this week - to carry out what they call ‘snagging’ work to the £1.35bn structure.
Contractors monitoring the £1.35 billion bridge have discovered the surface of the road is too high at its expansion joints, prompting further disruption and delays for commuters.
The crossing will be partially closed from Thursday evening, and is scheduled to fully reopen the following Wednesday. But Transport Scotland stressed that the five-day programme of works is “weather sensitive,” and could be subject to change.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said the issue was typical of such a large-scale infrastructure scheme and that taxpayers would not foot the bill for the repairs.
However, the announcement has sparked accusations that the construction process was rushed to avoid financial penalties.
Transport Scotland that the “snagging works” – identified by contractors who have been monitoring the bridge – will have to be carried out before the existing 50mph speed limit is raised to 70mph by the end of the year.
The road surface either side of the two joints – located at the north and south ends of the crossing – is too high. As a result, there is a slight lip. The work, which will span both carriageways, involves removing a layer of the road surface and pitching it so that it forms a smooth top layer.
The repairs are scheduled to begin at 10pm on Thursday and finish by 6am on the following Wednesday. Southbound traffic will use the Forth Road Bridge and northbound traffic will use the Queensferry Crossing, with the speed limit scaled back to 40mph.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Everyone knows that completion was rushed to avoid financial penalties and to allow the SNP to boast of a major capital project they say they have completed on time.
“The reality is this bridge still is not finished. While the SNP have sought to dine out on the praise associated with the crossing, my constituents and those travelling to and from Fife experience longer journey times than even the worst days of the Forth Road Bridge.”
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “I think it’s disappointing we’re at this stage with a brand new bridge that has only been open for a matter of weeks, and already there are quite serious issues being identified which are going to cause additional disruption at a time when people thought the worst had past.”
Mr Yousaf said the work would allow the crossing to reach its next “major milestone,” with the 70mph limit set to come into force.
He explained: “Snagging issues are normal with any major infrastructure project on this scale and complexity. Having closely monitored the bridge since its opening our contractors have informed us that this work is required around the bridge’s expansion joints prior to moving to a 70 mph speed limit.”