PROJECT bosses in charge of building the new Forth Road Bridge have vowed to avoid the £1.6 billion crossing becoming a repeat of the trams disaster.
Lothians Labour MSP Neil Findlay quizzed Transport Scotland officials on the issue when they appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure committee.
He said: “Depending on where you stand, one of the benefits or dangers of a bridge project, unlike a road project or a trams project, you can’t stop halfway.
“You mentioned that you had world class road-building, bridge-building and civil engineering companies involved. I’m pretty sure the companies involved in the tram project would have described themselves similarly.
“What safeguards are there for the taxpayer that any conflict or disputes can be resolved quickly and cheaply?”
David Climie, project director on Transport Scotland’s Forth Replacement Crossing team, told the committee he was working closely with main contractor, Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC).
He said: “The first stage to that is we have co-located the two teams together, we are very much zippering the two organisations together, so I meet on a daily basis with the FCBC project director to make sure I know what’s going on.
“The key to any of these projects is no surprises – you don’t want things to develop into something that becomes a major issue.
“We have put in place, within the contract itself, a multi-stage dispute resolution process, we are going to establish a dispute resolution board, and the project board will be meeting with the FCBC project board to make sure issues, as they arise, are dealt with and not allowed to develop into something that could have a major impact.”
Mr Climie said the budget for the project was based on inflation rates of between two and eight per cent a year.
He said: “We are monitoring inflation very closely because it is one of the key areas where we do have risk
“What we have found is since the base date of December 2010, we are currently running at or just above the top end of that range. But it is early and inflation is expected to fall back. We will continue to monitor on a regular basis.”
Mr Climie told the committee the foundations should be completed during 2012, ready for the towers to be built during 2013 and the first part of 2014 and the first decks being constructed during 2014.
The normal working hours for the project will be 8am-7pm, Monday-Saturday, but there will be some 24-hour activity, mainly work that is dependent on the tides.