Bridge walk hopefuls outnumber places by four to one

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The number of people applying to walk across the Queensferry Crossing has now outstripped the available tickets by nearly four to one.

The 195,000 total to date was revealed as an MSP said there would be no-one more appropriate to officially open the bridge than the Queen.

The event has yet to be announced, but September 4– when the bridge is expected to re-open after the walks – will also be the 53rd anniversary of the Queen opening the Forth Road Bridge, which the new crossing will largely replace.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown told MSPs the new crossing would initially open to traffic on August 30 because that was “vitally important” after he previously told them it would be between the middle of July and end of August.

That followed the opening being postponed from last December to May because of bad weather.

A total of 50,000 tickets to walk across the bridge on September 2-3, when it is closed to traffic, will be allocated in a random ballot after applications close next Wednesday.

Half the applicants live near the bridge, and some tickets will be reserved for community groups and project workers.

However, the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, hinted there may be other ways for local people to take part.

A spokesman said: “This project has worked closely with the community councils of North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Rosyth, South Queensferry, Newton and Kirkliston and will continue to work with them to ensure many local school pupils, community groups and members of local communities have the opportunity to take part in the opening celebrations.”

Mr Brown declined to give details of the events when asked why the bridge was opening before closing again for the walks.

However, he told the rural economy and connectivity committee: “The official opening programme we have, we have still to go through some security issues before confirming. “That might make it more obvious why the schedule of events we have are constructed in the way that they are.”

Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said the Queen would be ideal person for the opening.

She is due to attend the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering on 2 September. Mr Fraser said: “Given that Her Majesty the Queen opened the Forth Road Bridge 53 years ago, it would seem very fitting for her to also perform the honours at the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing.

“It’s hard to think of a more appropriate person to perform the function.”

Mr Brown said the contractors had a “high degree of confidence” the bridge would open to traffic on schedule after the previous delays.

He said final work, which was close to completion, included on the wind barriers, which should keep the bridge open in all but the most extreme conditions, and road surfacing and waterproofing.

Project director David Climie said opening and closing the crossing would also enable the testing of the emergency road link between the bridges.