Disappointment at lack of Queensferry Crossing talks

Pic Lisa Ferguson 30/11/2019. '''Queensferry crossing at rush hour.
Pic Lisa Ferguson 30/11/2019. '''Queensferry crossing at rush hour.

List MSP Liz Smith is “disappointed” to hear that there have been no discussions between the Scottish Government and Fife and Lothian councils about traffic flows on the Queensferry Crossing.

The Scottish Conservative politician raised the matter last week with Transport Minister Michael Matheson at Holyrood but expressed concerns that no such meetings have taken place despite repeated complaints that rush-hour traffic is problematic.

Ms Smith had asked Mr Matheson what discussions the Scottish Government has had with both Fife and Lothian councils since January this year regarding traffic flows on the Queensferry Crossing.

The Transport Minister reveal that no “specific” discussions had taken place, before stating that discussions are planned for January 2020 between Transport Scotland and Fife Council.

Ms Smith said: “I was very disappointed with the response from the Transport Minister because several constituents have been in touch with me in recent months to complain bitterly about the lengthy queues and time delays on the approach to the crossing.

“They made the point that the rush-hour traffic congestion is as bad as it was when the Queensferry Crossing did not exist.

“I feel it is time to rethink the traffic flows and also time for the Scottish Government to engage with Fife and Lothian councils on this problem.”

She added: “I know this matter was raised recently by Conservative colleagues on Fife Council, with Councillor Dave Coleman suggesting that the Forth Road Bridge should be considered as an alternative option during busy times.

“Congestion can be so frustrating for commuters and is particularly bad for motorists driving on the North Queensferry approach to the crossing. It is time the Scottish Government seriously addressed this problem.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We have been invited by Fife Council to their next South and West Fife Area Committee meeting, which is expected to be in early 2020. The purpose of the invite is to discuss the performance of the Queensferry Crossing and adjacent local roads. We will attend and continue to value any constructive feedback received.“It’s important to remember that the new structure was always intended to be a replacement crossing, as stated in the Forth Crossing Act. What is undeniable is that the bridge is more resilient than its predecessor. Thanks to its windshield barriers the Queensferry Crossing has stayed open to high sided vehicles on over 30 occasions when the Forth Road Bridge would have closed during severe weather, and the haulage industry and wider economy has directly benefitted as a result.

“The use of the Forth Road Bridge as a dedicated public transport corridor, and the associated bus lane infrastructure, has reduced journey times for public transport users from the Fife park and ride sites by up to 40 per cent between Ferrytoll and Newbridge at peak times compared to the car.

“We will be engaging further with neighbouring councils over the coming weeks as part of the stakeholder engagement work supporting evaluation of the Forth Replacement Crossing Project, which will consider pre-opening and post-opening traffic data. We also have well-established stakeholder relations via the Forth Bridges Forum and have held regular public engagement sessions at the Forth Education Centre and community events throughout the various stages of the project.”