Forth Bridge Update

Posted by chdot on February 15, 2007

As predicted yesterday by The ForthRight Alliance (see story below), the Scottish Cabinet (joint Labour/LibDem coalition) has decided that there will be a new crossing of the Forth Estuary. This is in spite of previous indications that a decision wouldn’t be made until technical reports on the state of the existing Forth Road Bridge were published.

This won’t be until after the (May) election. Of course it would be easy to be cynical about the timing and content of this announcement. The cynics and conspiracy theorists are alive and well in the on-line ‘readers’ comments’ section at the bottom of the Scotsman story – always worth a read if you need reassurance about the diversity of the human race.

Whether or not another new bridge is necessary or desirable is, in theory, still to be debated when the technical reports are finished. However as CyclingEdinburgh reported in December, some ‘sustainable transport’ campaigners expect that a new crossing will be built – whatever the cost, financial and environmental. The ‘big’ questions are whether the old bridge will remain and whether overall capacity will increase with or without traffic restraining measures (including tolls, which there are campaigns against. NOTE “HGVs across the Forth Road Bridge pay only £2.00 a trip, a pitiful sum compared to the £15.30 paid by lorries on the Severn Bridge, and the £18.30 paid on the Humber Bridge.” Source TRANSform Scotland)

Colin Howden, Director of TRANSform Scotland, said yesterday – “Today’s announcement appears to be no more than a pre-election give-away to Fife. This is not a sound basis on which to make investment decisions of more than £1 billion. Nothing the Executive has published today demonstrates that the existing bridge cannot be repaired. We require conclusive evidence on this matter. Any new crossing which provides additional capacity for car commuting would be totally unsustainable, and would make a mockery of the raft of commitments recently made on tackling climate change.”

Rational joined-up-transport-policies are not expected soon. One question hardly ever asked is ‘what about pedestrians and cyclists?’ This is even more important at this stage if there is a possibility that the existing bridge will be removed because it would be too expensive to maintain even for light traffic. Whatever happens, the provision of a safe cycle route to the bridge(s) from Edinburgh is even more important.

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