The new Forth Crossing is on target to be opened by May next year and remains within its £1.35 billion budget, the leaders of the construction project said yesterday.
But Project Director David Climie warned MSPs that bad weather could still make it “challenging” to hit the target adding that “everything that can safely be done is being done”.
It was originally hoped the Queensferry Crossing could open by December 2016. But that deadline was revised when high winds forced work to stop for 25 days in April and May.
Mr Climie said changing the date was a “painful process”, but said the new target date was “realistic”. He said there had been a “worse than average winter”, which had caused delays, but that he was now confident it could be open by May 2017 after a “good three months”.
Questioned by MSPs at Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee, Mr Climie said: “I’m always an optimist so I hope it will be before May, but I’m also a realist so I accept there are certain circumstances where it could be after May.
“The main issue that could affect it is one we can’t control, the weather. May is a very reasonable assumption and that’s certainly what were aiming for, that we believe we can achieve and that the contractor is telling us they believe they can achieve.”
MSPs were told that 93 of 110 deck units were now in place, and that work had progressed well on supporting roads and infrastructure.
The committee heard there were still “incredibly frustrating” days when work could not be done due to wind, but that contractors Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors had shown flexibility to keep the project moving forward.
Commenting on the possibility of weather delays, Mr Clinie said he accepted there were “certain circumstances where it could be after May.”
Yesterday Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “People in Edinburgh are facing months of uncertainty over when the Queensferry Crossing will open and the ‘mibbees aye, mibbees naw’ approach we saw this morning has left them none the wiser.
“I would urge Ministers and the project team to ensure that local people are not kept in the dark and get all the information on the progress of the bridge work that they need.”
There was also a pause in the project after a 60-year-old .worker was killed on the site
Mr Climie said the fatal accident had been “a great shock to the project and a great setback to us all”, and said that safety was top priority for the project team.