Residents are gearing up for a week of celebrations as the Queensferry Crossing finally opens.
The new £1.35 billion structure will begin handling all vehicles on Wednesday and Thursday before shutting again to allow 50,000 balloted visitors the unique opportunity to walk across on September 2 and 3.
The day after sees the official opening of the world’s longest three-tower cable- stayed ridge by HM The Queen, with activities taking place on both sides of the Forth.
The ceremony will include a welcome address from the First Minister, a blessing by the Moderator of General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and live performances showcasing a cross-section of Scotland’s rich musical talent.
Groups around the bridge will also receive the once in a lifetime chance to walk the Crossing on a community day on September 5.
Another 10,000 people from 13 schools and groups in the area are to have their shot before the bridge is re-opened to traffic with no pedestrian access a day later. There will also be funding for South Queensferry to host events, entertainment screening the celebrations and a flotilla on the Forth in the run-up to and during the opening on September 4.
Alan Platt, construction director of the project, said: “It’s a massive achievement for British and Scottish engineering. It’s an icon right on your door step, it’s a landmark, it provides connectivity to people and it’ll probably improve tourism.
“It’s a fantastic project which has been almost completed in record time from inception to opening in 10 years is very unusual as normally these things take 20 to 25 years. I think for most of us working on this bridge it will be a crowning achievement in our careers.”
The director admitted there were a number of challenges to overcome including the weather which hampered progress on the bridge, delaying the opening date twice. There were more than 18 million man hours spent on constructing it and 12000 people involved during the course of the project.
However, it is also a poignant time for the team as they reflect on the loss of one of their colleagues John Cousins (60) who was tragically killed in April 2016 after he was struck by the boom of a crane.
A petition on change.org requesting a memorial to honour him was signed by over 3000 residents.
It was confirmed that there will be a plaque to the banksman from the Northumberland area and his family will also be able to walk the 1.7 mile bridge.
The construction director said: “I’ve been in consultation with the family and they have said they are happy wuth what we are going to do.
“The plan is a memorial on the north side but under the road bridge looking out towards the Queensferry Crossing. I guess that will be finished this year.
“The family are walking over the bridge. It will be a emotional time for the family. In a way I was surprised that they wanted to come on a day that most people are celebrating but they insisted so we have facilitated that.
“It’s pretty close to all our hearts, it is the worst thing that could have happened on the project if there was anything we didn’t want to happen it was for somebody to die during the construction.
“It is emotional for everyone and certainly from the point of view of respecting the family’s privacy we’re not revealing any details of when they are going to be here.”