Forth bridge chiefs angered by speed cameras plan

FORTH Road Bridge officials today rapped Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland for failing to ask permission to site average speed cameras on the crossing.
Traffic on the Forth Road Bridge. PIC: TOBY WILLIAMSTraffic on the Forth Road Bridge. PIC: TOBY WILLIAMS
Traffic on the Forth Road Bridge. PIC: TOBY WILLIAMS

The cameras will enforce the speed limit being cut from 50mph to 40mph from late Spring during construction work on a junction with the new Queensferry Crossing to the north of the bridge.

Transport Scotland announced the move three weeks ago, as The Scotsman reported.

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However, the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta), which runs the bridge, said its approval had not been sought.

Feta chiefs also dismissed claims by Queensferry Crossing project director David Climie to a Holyrood committee yesterday that the cameras would also be useful because drivers on the bridge were slowing down to look at construction work.

Lesley Hinds, Feta’s Labour convener, said: “As the local roads authority, Feta is responsible for setting the speed limit on the Forth Road Bridge.

“Any reduction in this speed limit can only be implemented by Feta.

“No formal request has been made by Transport Scotland, although some discussions have taken place regarding reducing the speed limit to allow new roadworks to be tied into the existing A90.

“We were therefore surprised to read comments made to MSPs suggesting that plans were already in place.

“We would also question Transport Scotland’s assertion that a reduction in the speed limit is necessary due to distraction being caused by construction of the new bridge.

“As operators of the Forth Road Bridge, we have seen no evidence that drivers are slowing down on the bridge, and there has been no increase in accidents.”

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Ms Hinds said Feta and Transport Scotland officials had informally discussed the cameras, but Feta could not make a decision until it had received a formal request.

Feta said its next board meeting was tomorrow but it had yet to receive any request.

The spat comes as the latest sign of friction between Feta and the SNP government, which is abolishing it on 31 May.

Ms Hinds, who is also Edinburgh City Council’s transport convener, has criticised the decision to hold future meetings about the bridge in private, with councillors being barred.

Transport Scotland said the cameras had been discussed with Feta for a year, but admitted that “formalities” had still to be completed.

Its spokeswoman said: “The project team have been in discussions with Feta on planning for traffic management on the A90/M90 works north of the Forth Road Bridge for around 12 months.

“The proposal to extend the 40mph limit – which will be enforced for driver and roadworker safety in the vicinity of the works – across the bridge has been universally agreed by members of the project’s traffic management working group, including Feta, local authorities and Police Scotland.

“The traffic management is not expected to be in place until later in the Spring/early Summer, and there remain some standard formalities to be completed, including the road orders. This is progressing normally.

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“David Climie was simply explaining to the [infrastructure and capital investment] committee, and the public, the agreed rationale for extending the 40mph limit over the bridge until the new bridge is completed.”