Fife commuters have say on ‘improved’ Queensferry Crossing

Pic Lisa Ferguson
Pic Lisa Ferguson

The Queensferry Crossing may be more resilient to weather conditions than its predecessor, but are our journey times over the Forth improving?

Transport Scotland says that the crossing has, on average, reduced the journey time from M90 Junction 2 Admiralty, to the M90/M9 Junction by up to five minutes at peak times.

But it seems many of our readers, who use the new bridge regularly, would strongly disagree.

Some hoped the new bridge would mean shorter journey times with the higher speed limit, but most morning and evening peak times still see queues of traffic backed up with extensive delays to be expected.

It’s a common misconception that the Queensferry Crossing was initially constructed to cut journey times.

In fact the reason it came into being was because the aging Forth Road Bridge was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain while traffic continued to use it.

Initial problems with coroding cables in 2003 meant that a more reliable alternative needed to be put in place – an idea further underlined during the crossing’s construction, when the bridge was closed for emergency work in 2015.

So, while wind barriers on the Queensferry Crossing have kept it open on 34 occasions when the FRB would have been closed to high-sided vehicles, drivers still report that traffic jams and delays plague the crossing.

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The Press asked our readers who use the bridge how they feel about the current journey over the Forth.

Charles Begg said: “The propaganda from Transport Scotland insisting that the Queensferry Crossing has made journey times shorter is certainly not the experience of those who need to cross between about 4.00pm and 6.00pm any day of the week. “On the few occasions that I have to cross between these times, my journey from the M90 junction 1 to junction can take almost one hour – and for no apparent reason either except that the traffic seems to be jammed up.

“Perhaps this is caused by the unnecessary 40 mph limit which is displayed for no apparent reason.

“There will always be one driver who will travel well below the limit, and that slows down all the traffic behind causing long tailbacks to quickly to build up causing unnecessary frustration.

“Why not have a minimum speed limit over the bridge, as happens on many major bridges on the continent, and makes sense?

“Certainly during quiet times the crossing is quite quick because there is not much traffic crossing, so I can only assume these are the times referred to in the report. People who do not require to travel at busy times or who may never use the bridge might be prepared to believe the statement, but those who have to use the bridge know exactly how inadequate these roads are.”

One solution offered by some readers is to reopen the old Forth Road Bridge to ease congestion.

It is currently used as a public transport corridor, reserved for buses, taxis, small motorcycles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Amey, which operates the bridge says that the classes of vehicle permitted to use the Forth Road Bridge are defined in legislation and there are no plans to change this.

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Traffic has been restricted to a single lane in each direction for the past nine months while the main expansion joints are replaced, and there is also work going on under the deck to renew and refurbish maintenance access walkways.

However, reader Paul Westwaters wants to see it reopened to other kind of traffic: “Nothing has changed whatsoever, same traffic same hold ups, same traffic jams at the same times, why would it change?

“The only way it could possibly change is if they opened up the original bridge to HGV’s vans etc.

“They are kidding themselves on if they think it is saving money considering it cost billions to build, tell me what is the old bridge used for now?”

Hilary Warnock has also grown frustrated by the traffic: “I changed my job because I couldn’t stand being held up on this bridge every day! It was a nightmare!

“The last thing you need after a 12-and-a-half-hour shift is to wait in traffic for an extra hour, then set the alarm so you can do it all again at stupid o’clock the next morning! It seems to me, we have swapped one bridge for another of the same size!

“Now I get to work easily in about 30 mins – I’ve never been held up yet.”

Robert Sneddon said: “In all honesty, yes I think times have improved but only ever so slightly. There are still big queues north and southbound. I feel more could be done.”