Almost 200,000 seek Queensferry Crossing bridge walk tickets
Nearly 200,000 applications have been received for the Queensferry Crossing bridge walk, economy secretary Keith Brown told MSPs today.
He also hinted the Â£1.35 billion bridge's official opening may dovetail with the walks on Saturday 2 and 3 September.
Mr Brown told the Scottish Parliament's rural economy and connectivity committee there had been 195,000 applications for the free tickets so far - almost four times the 50,000 available.
Half of the applicants live near the bridge.
Would-be participants in the so-called "Queensferry Crossing Experience" have until noon next Wednesday to add their names to the ballot for places.
Mr Brown also revealed that forthcoming details of the crossing's official opening events "might make it more obvious" as to why it was decided to open the bridge to traffic on Wednesday 30 August, then close it again three days later for the walks.
That would suggest the opening ceremony will be on Monday 4 September to coincide with the bridge opening again to vehicles.
The obvious choice to perform the opening would be the Queen, who did the same for the Forth Road Bridge - on 4 September 1964.
The date is two days after the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering, which the Queen has attended every year since she became its patron in 1952.
Mr Brown said: "The official opening programme we have, we have still to go through some security issues before confirming those.
"That might make it more obvious why the schedule of events we have are constructed in the way that they are."
The minister also hinted at the possibility of further public access to the bridge during the events, which will become a motorway when opened with pedestrians and cyclists prohibited.
He said it would be "possibly" be the only chance people will have to walk over the bridge over that weekend.
However, he said the contractors had a "high degree of confidence" that the bridge would open to traffic on 30 August.
Mr Brown said he had previously said it would open between the middle of July and the end of August, so "it is vitally important that we do that".
This follows the opening being delayed from last December to May, then to August by bad weather.
The Scottish Government's Transport Scotland agency, which is in charge of the project, said it was trying to ensure many local people "have the opportunity to take part in the opening celebrations".
A spokesman said: “There has been a fantastic reaction to the launch of the ballot for the Queensferry Crossing Experience so far, with over 195,000 entries received to date.
"There has also been an excellent local response, with over half of the entrants to the ballot from the most local postcode areas to the Queensferry Crossing.
“There are over 160,000 local people living within the most local post codes to the Queensferry Crossing and many more who live within close proximity to the 22km project corridor.
"Due to the high anticipated demand for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, careful consideration has been given to the health and safety, security, logistics and transport arrangements to ensure the event is of high quality and can be managed in a safe and secure way.
"A website and ballot registration process is in place to cater for the huge interest and to ensure fair and equal opportunities for the public to take part.
“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.”