THE team behind the new Queensferry Crossing has given an assurance 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, has become the bane of motorists’ lives, often closing to all high-sided vans and HGVs thanks to the frequent squalls that buffet the estuary.
Engineers have been quick to underline their new crossing’s credentials, insisting “no matter the weather it will stay open for business”.
Transport Scotland project director David Climie vowed: “The windshields have undergone wind tunnel testing to ensure reliability and therefore there will be no need to close the bridge in high winds.”
Officials made the assurances while unveiling a bird’s eye video of what the Forth’s newest £1.4bn crossing will look like.
Drivers can already see the top of the 683 ft high central tower emerging from the water and in the coming weeks both the south and north towers will also appear. All three are expected to be at full deck level by mid-summer.
Once the deck level is in place, the large windshields will be placed along each side of the 1.6-mile bridge.
Tested in wind tunnels, these barriers ensure the bridge can remain open in even the stormiest of conditions, allowing traffic to journey across at 70mph.
Project bosses are also confident that the bridge’s cable-span design will stop all moisture issues in the cables, which has caused the deterioration in the Forth Road Bridge.
Mr Climie added: “The trouble with the current road bridge is that the cables were spun in place on site, therefore trapping moisture within them. The cables on this bridge have all been manufactured off-site so this will not be an issue.”
Transport Scotland has also revealed that 250 out of 415 subcontracts from the Queensferry Crossing have gone to Scottish companies and that 75 per cent of the 1000-strong workforce are from north of the border.
Scottish firms have been awarded subcontracts or supply orders with a total value of about £157 million.
Carlo Germani, project director with the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors, said: “It’s great for everyone involved to finally break the surface, so to speak, so far most of what we have been doing has been underwater. People can now see what’s really happening.
“By mid summer people will see the three towers standing out of the water.”
In December, the first huge sections of deck were pushed out across the viaduct piers high above the south bank of the Forth. Overall, it took ten hours to cover the 70 metres.
A second section was pushed out in January and the plan going forward is to continue this process every two months.
Last September, the world’s largest continuous underwater concrete pour was achieved during foundation work for the south tower – as structures were first set in place then filled.
The huge 15-day, 24-hour operation, successfully poured 16,869 cubic metres of concrete.
Mr Germani said: “The three steel caissons are amongst the largest structures ever lowered to the seabed anywhere in the world and we have successfully placed them extremely accurately in often difficult marine and weather conditions.”