Comment: Forth Road Bridge re-opening is the best early present for Edinburgh

Santa gets in on the action as the Forth Road Bridge re-opens. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Santa gets in on the action as the Forth Road Bridge re-opens. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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IT is the best Christmas present that Edinburgh could have hoped for.

IT is the best Christmas present that Edinburgh could have hoped for.

For now let’s accept the unexpected present and raise a glass to the skill of the engineers who rescued Christmas.

The work on the Forth Road Bridge being completed early and before the festive season is a huge boost, not just to businesses but also thousands of families who have put up with disruption.

It’s not good news for everyone of course as the HGV ban remains in place, and no-one believes this is the end of the work. But as we said at the time of the closure, the government had to ensure it kept Scotland moving and this has at least been achieved.

We should not over-egg the reopening – the work has in fact been completed on time, it’s just extra slack which was built into the schedule to cope with bad weather was not needed. But with the eyes of the country on the operation, working round the clock to finish when they did was an achievement in itself.

What the closure showed us was the reliance Scotland places on key pieces of infrastructure as well as the chaos a 20mm crack can cause.

We hope of course with the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing that such a situation can never happen again.

The old bridge will still be in use – and so it should be after the amount of money we’re spending on it this Christmas – but will be reserved for public transport.

This will reduce the load on the bridge but also provide another incentive for the public to switch to the buses as the journeys will be quicker than waiting in queues for the new crossing.

Crucially, though, it will also be there to take the strain in the event the Queensferry Crossing needs to be closed for any reason.

An inquiry into exactly what went wrong to cause the catastrophic closure is to come and many people are rightly going to continue to demand answers.

For now let’s accept the unexpected present and raise a glass to the skill of the engineers who rescued Christmas.