THE first of four shipments of steel has arrived for the £1.5 billion Queensferry Crossing as engineers set about spanning the Forth.
This delivery signals the start of a major new phase of work on the bridge as it begins to stretch out into the Firth.
Supplied by Chinese firm ZPMC, the consignment set sail from Shanghai six weeks ago and is composed of 12 steel deck units, each weighing 250 tonnes.
Once completed, in 2016, the Queensferry Crossing will be the tallest bridge in the UK and one of the largest of its type in the world.
Transport Minister Keith Brown was on hand to welcome the arrival of the first shipment to Rosyth.
The consignment was delivered on board a 250-metre long, 40-metre high ship which travelled up the Firth of Forth before docking just after 7.30pm yesterday.
Last week it was revealed that Scottish firms have won less than half the total value of contracts on the main part of the project, triggering a political row over its impact on Scottish jobs.
Official figures for the cross-Forth project’s £790 million principal contract showed that so far, 40 per cent of the total value of sub-contracts and supply orders had been won by Scottish firms. Overall, Scottish firms have secured £157m of the total £393m worth of such orders awarded so far.
However visiting the site yesterday, Mr Brown was keen to stress the number of new jobs created as a result of the project.
He said the “steel delivery phase” was creating 100 new jobs – in addition to the 1000 workers already on site – and added: “Today the sheer scale of the operations required to build the Queensferry Crossing becomes clear with the tower structures and V-shaped viaduct piers visibly rising steadily from the Forth for all to see.
“The arrival of the steel deck units is yet another milestone for Scotland’s biggest infrastructure project in a generation and progress continues on schedule and under budget.” He added: “The Queensferry Crossing presents £6bn worth of opportunities to the Scottish economy through Scottish businesses and sub-contractors along the supply chain – already £157m worth of subcontracts and supply orders from the project have been awarded to over 360 Scottish companies.”
Back in February the team behind the new crossing issued an assurance that it will remain open no matter the weather.
The new bridge has been fitted with special barriers – modelled in a wind tunnel – that will prevent it from having to close in a storm.
Its sister, the current Forth Road Bridge, is not always traffic friendly, closing to high- sided vans and HGVs when strong winds sweep up or down the Firth.
Speaking at the time, Transport Scotland project director David Climie vowed: “The windshields have undergone wind tunnel testing and there will be no need to close the bridge in high winds.”