Queensferry Crossing sightseers contribute to delays as £1.35bn bridge opens

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Sightseers eager to try out the new Queensferry Crossing have been contributing to long delays on its first day in operation.

Motorists were warned to expect tailbacks on the new £1.35 billion bridge which opened to traffic in the early hours of Wednesday.

Traffic crosses the new Queensferry Crossing on the first day of operational use
(Jane Barlow/PA)

The first cars drove over the structure shortly before 2am after traffic was diverted from the Forth Road Bridge (FRB).

By rush-hour, drivers were facing long delays in both directions, with Traffic Scotland tweeting: “This is not just commuters heading for work” and later: “LOTS of visitors experiencing @FRC_Queensferry. Delays on all approaches.”

The bridge was earlier hit by its first breakdown when a lorry stopped at about 7am.

Traffic Scotland tweeted: “First breakdown on the @FRC_Queensferry. Mostly on hard shoulder but bum sticking out … slightly!”

The Queensferry Crossing has an initial 40mph limit but will become a 70mph motorway in due course.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “As predicted, due to the popularity of this new bridge, there are large additional volumes of traffic on the Queensferry Crossing, with drivers wanting to experience the new bridge for themselves, in addition to the normal morning commuter traffic.

“The bridge itself remained free-flowing despite an early breakdown. The driver involved was able to make use of the new hard shoulder and was assisted off the bridge by our trunk road incident support service.

“Although we are aware of delays on approach roads to the crossing, these are mainly down to the volume of traffic and drivers getting used to the new road layout.”

The Queensferry Crossing will serve about 24 million vehicles each year, easing the strain on the FRB, which will be used for buses, taxis and bikes.

It is essentially an extension of the M90 motorway across the Forth with a 70mph speed limit, although operators said an initial 40mph limit will be in place when the bridge first opens to take account of “driver distraction”.

Traffic flows on both carriageways of the Queensferry Crossing
(Andrew Milligan/PA)

Economy Secretary Keith Brown was among the first to cross the bridge in the early hours of Wednesday.

He said: “It’s fantastic. You immediately notice coming over the new bridge – as traffic is now doing – the absence of the ‘slap, slap, slap’ that you get on the existing bridge.

“It’s a very smooth passage right across the Queensferry Crossing. Also, just the excitement of looking at this fantastic new structure from a new angle. I think it will be extremely well-received by the people in Scotland who are going to use this bridge.”

A view of the new Queensferry Crossing, seen from South Queensferry
(Jane Barlow/PA)

The 1.7-mile crossing has a projected life of 120 years but could last longer as it has been “designed for maintenance” to ensure it runs smoothly for decades.

Linking the Lothians and Fife, the new crossing is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.

UK's tallest bridges
(PA graphic)

On Monday night, a collection of vintage, modern and electric vehicles drove on the structure in a procession to mark the symbolic handover from contractors to the Scottish Government.

It was followed by a light show across the crossing to celebrate the completion of the biggest infrastructure project in Scotland in a generation.

In the early hours of Friday, the new bridge will be closed again to prepare for a public walk on the crossing and a royal visit from the Queen on Monday.

A total of 50,000 invited members of the public will have the chance to walk across it on Saturday and Sunday.

Motorists will be able to drive across it after it reopens on Thursday September 7.

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