Queensferry Crossing

(Forth Replacement Crossing)

Queensferry Crossing
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Queensferry Crossing

A key transport link in E Central Scotland, the Queensferry Crossing represents the fifth bridge across the Firth of Forth and conveys the majority of traffic between Fife and the Lothians. This elegant structure carries the M90 motorway north from Port Edgar to St. Margaret's Hope, a distance of 1.6 miles (2633m), and comprises two carriageways in each direction, plus hard shoulders. Officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 4th September 2017, this represents the longest triple-tower cable-stayed bridge in the world and, with towers each 207m (679 feet) high, it is also the tallest bridge in the UK.

Uniquely, this is the only location worldwide where three bridges, each built in a different century, operate together. These others are the Forth Road Bridge, completed in 1964 a quarter-mile (0.5 km) to the east, and the iconic Forth Bridge beyond, which opened in 1890. Much further upstream are the Kincardine Bridge and the Clackmannan Bridge.

Described as Scotland's largest infrastructure project in a generation, the Queensferry Crossing was designed and built at a cost of £1.35 billion by an international consortium comprising American Bridge International, Dragados, Hochtief Solutions and Morrison Construction. Its design shows a remarkable visual similarity to the Bridge of Chains which was proposed as a crossing of the Firth in 1818 by engineer James Anderson (1793 - 1861).

The bridge was funded by the Scottish Government (through Transport Scotland) and its operation is managed by Amey, who also run and maintain the Forth Road Bridge. The Queensferry Crossing was designed to replace this earlier road bridge, which has suffered damage from corrosion and was carrying a much greater number of vehicles of rather heavier weights than was envisaged when it opened.

Construction of the new bridge required an Act of the Scottish Parliament, which gained Royal Assent in January 2011. Preparatory works began soon after. In 2012, massive steel caissons were installed and used to anchor the foundations for the towers and approach viaduct piers on bedrock beneath the river. These foundations involved 28,000 cubic metres of concrete. The central of the three concrete towers had its foundations on Beamer Rock, where the existing light beacon was demolished. The deck was pre-fabricated in 122 sections, controversially imported from China, each weighing an average of 750 tonnes. These were lifted into place by a floating crane. The southern approach viaduct was assembled in sections and pushed out over the river onto its support piers. It is 543m / 1781 feet in length and weighs more than 7000 tonnes. The 6000-tonne north approach viaduct extends to 221m (725 feet) and was fully assembled on land before being pushed out into position. The steelwork is protected by 600,000 litres (158,500 gallons) of paint. The deck is supported by distinctive stay cables, which each consist of up to 109 strands. These strands are composed of seven high tensile galvanised steel wires, 5.2mm / 0.2 inches in diameter, and embedded in high-density polyethylene to prevent corrosion. The construction team peaked at 1300 workers.

Due to be completed by December 2016, delays occurred following the accidental death of a worker and then because of adverse weather conditions which slowed the work. However, the bridge was completed in August 2017 around £250 million below budget. There is no pedestrian access, but 50,000 members of the public were allowed to walk over the bridge in conditions of high security, prior to the official opening.

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