The new bridge over the River Forth at Queensferry is now not expected to be open until August after the contractor said it needs more time to complete the project.
Scotland's Economy Secretary Keith Brown now says the expected opening date will be achieved in a window between mid-July and the end of August, approximately four to ten weeks later than predicted.
The contractor has reported there have been fewer clear weather windows than expected, particularly in relation to wind. This has delayed weather dependant activities causing them to bunch together at the end of the programme to a much greater degree than was anticipated in May 2016. This means that a lot of construction activity is underway simultaneously and careful planning is required to ensure that this can be done safely, so that one activity does not impact on another.
Contractors say that at this stage of the project all remaining activities are vulnerable to weather conditions. For example, the tower cranes can only be removed in wind speeds of less than 25 mph and when this is happening, it is not possible to safely work within a 50 metre radius of the crane itself. Other works are also effected including work on cable stays which are sensitive to wind, waterproofing the bridge deck which is sensitive to rain and road surfacing which can be sensitive to both rain and low temperatures.
It says with so much simultaneous activity underway, there are no further opportunities to mitigate the effects of weather delays at this point of the construction programme.
Mr Brown said, “Today there are only nine weeks remaining to the end of May and the review has concluded that even with the best weather this date is not now safely achievable.
“I fully recognise the effort of the workforce in building this amazing new bridge. Over 13 million hours have gone into building the Queensferry Crossing over the past six years.
“There is no additional cost to the public purse and the Forth Road Bridge continues to carry traffic over the Forth during these final weeks of construction. While its clearly very disappointing the new bridge won’t be ready ahead of the contractual completion date, I believe it is important to take the time to make sure the bridge is built in the safest possible circumstances to the highest possible standards.”
Sally Cox, chair of the Board for the Forth Road Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) added, “FCBC acknowledge that the uniqueness of this project and the onerous weather conditions it has experienced, particularly working at height crossing the Forth have created more challenges than we anticipated.
“FCBC have always been and remain ambitious about completing this challenging project at the earliest possible date and share Transport Scotland and the public’s frustration over this delay. We have assured Transport Scotland that every endeavour is and will continue to be made, to safely complete the project at the earliest opportunity.”