Our best ever present!

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FIFE Council has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s approval for construction to begin on the new Forth Bridge.

Work on the new £2bn Forth Road Bridge will get under way next year and will be due for completion by 2016.

The existing road bridge will be used exclusively for public transport and cyclists.

Head of the Council transportation services, Dr Bob McLellan, said: ”This is the greatest Christmas present Fife could have wished for.

“This new crossing will be absolutely key to the continued growth of the Fife economy.

“We are working very positively in with the Scottish Government, West Lothian Council, Edinburgh City Council and the South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran) on a public transport strategy, which includes the possibility of a new Park and Ride at Halbeath.

“This is an excellent development for the future of transport in Fife.”

Iconic structure

Councillor Tony Martin, chairman of the regions transport committee echoed his comments.

He said: “This iconic structure will be a gateway to Fife from the south and will open up opportunities for business in the Kingdom while alleviating the stress on the existing Forth bridge, by allowing sustainable transport to continue to cross it.”

Last week, MSPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a replacement for the Forth Road Bridge.

The Forth Crossing Bill, introduced by Finance Secretary John Swinney in November 2009, was praised for bringing forward proposals for a world-class, 21st century crossing that replaces the Forth Road Bridge as the main route for traffic across the Forth.

Jobs & investment

Due to the deterioration of the main suspension cables and other ongoing maintenance issues, the existing bridge cannot continue as the main crossing.

It may have to close to some vehicles by 2017, although under the current proposals it would be retained as a dedicated public transport corridor for buses, cycles and taxis.

The new crossing will also secure over 3000 jobs and bring in a revenue of £1.3m.

MSPs had earlier heard that Scotland would face dire economic and social consequences if the essential cross-Forth link in the transport network was restricted or lost all together.

The structure will be the third major crossing of the lower Forth and will see a world-class 21st century structure sit alongside the iconic rail and road bridges.