The Forth Road Bridge was relieved of duty this morning as today’s commute was temporarily transferred over to the new Queensferry Crossing.
The new three-tower cable suspension bridge connecting Lothian and the Kingdom of Fife is now the longest in the world, stretching 1.7miles.
The sun wasn’t even in the sky as I made my first journey across at 6am. Traffic was light and slip-to-slip, it only took two-and-a-half minutes. One hour later, it was a slightly different story.
Doubling back, a spectacular view of the sunrise now lit up two bridges in the distance.
A broken down lorry was causing heavy tailbacks heading south over the bridge, with curious motorists now mixed among the morning commute.
I passed the mortified lorry driver at 7am, but at least he had been moved on to the hard shoulder quickly and efficiently to not disturb the traffic. Even with a breakdown, slip-to-slip travelling south still took less than five minutes.
“That’s the big difference between the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing,” explains Transport Scotland’s Traffic Operation Manager Stein Connelly.
“If that had of happened on the old Forth Road Bridge then we would have been down to one lane and that would have caused some severe disruption.”
Gone are (what can only be described as) thundering motor hiccups experienced as your vehicle drives over the Forth Road Bridge’s expansion joints.
Commuters can look forward to a smooth crossing after the Queen officially opens the crossing on Monday.
The new crossing feels more open to the elements, but the new transparent wind shielding leaves motorists anything but exposed.
The 210m-high concrete bridge towers - the highest in the UK - makes it 50m higher than the Forth Road Bridge.
23,000 miles of cable was used in the bridge’s construction - laying it all out, end to end, would almost stretch the entire way around the equator.
Furthermore, sculptor Andy Scott could have fashioned 23 Kelpies from the 7,000 tonnes of steel used to construct the North and South viaducts at each end of the bridge.
On both north and south shores, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists all stop momentarily to take a picture, which seems strange when you consider how long it’s been part of the landscape. The only difference between the bridge today and yesterday is the tens of thousands of vehicles catching the sun on their way across the water.
“You can see the control centre is based at the south end of the Forth Road Bridge, so we’ve been seeing out the window the construction of the new bridge over the years,” says Stein.
“I know we’ve got the cameras here in the control room, but it’s great seeing traffic travelling across that bridge now.”
Drivers can commute over the Queensferry crossing today and tomorrow. Pedestrians and cyclists are invited to cross using the vehicle-free Forth Road Bridge until traffic transfers back on Friday.
Before the bridge officially opens next Thursday, 50,000 people are expected to cross the bridge on foot, to gain a whole new perspective of this incredible construction.