Queensferry Crossing illuminated to mark handover of bridge
The Queensferry Crossing has been illuminated by a light show to mark the symbolic handover of the new bridge to the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took part in a procession of vintage, modern and electric vehicles across the bridge and thanked workers for their efforts before she switched on the lights on Monday night.
The bridge was plunged into darkness before the procession of around 20 vehicles carrying made its way across.
After a short speech under the bridge’s north tower, Ms Sturgeon started the light display across the £1.35 billion crossing to mark the handover from the contractors to the Scottish Government.
It will open to traffic on Wednesday, joining the Forth road and rail bridges connecting Edinburgh and Fife.
Other guests at the handover ceremony included veteran workers who helped build the Forth Road Bridge (FRB), local schoolchildren and contractors to celebrate the ‘’past, present and future’’ of engineering across the Firth of Forth.
Addressing workers, the First Minister said: ‘’I can’t tell you how emotional it feels to be standing on this stunning Queensferry Crossing.
“It is here to do a job and keep our country connected but it is much more than that.
“This bridge will be one of the greatest bridges in the world, no scrub that, this bridge is the greatest bridge in the world.”
Ms Sturgeon shook the hands of workers and took selfies with the light show shining on the bridge.
She added: ‘’What you have done here is something very special.
‘’It is in every way an amazing achievement and I want to congratulate everyone involved.
‘’The weather in the middle of the Forth has made sure it was a challenge but you have made history and this bridge will serve Scotland for 150 years and more.’’
Alex Porteous worked on the construction of the FRB until 1964 and was among the first group of guests to be driven on to the Queensferry Crossing on Monday night.
The 71-year-old said: “It’s amazing to see another bridge built in my lifetime.
“We knew in the 1960s that the Forth Road Bridge would eventually be out of date but I didn’t think I’d see another bridge built here.
“It brings back a lot of memories of my time working and it’s touching to be involved in this opening.”
Construction work began in 2011, with numerous records and milestones marked along the way.
The 1.7-mile crossing has been ‘’designed for maintenance’’ to ensure it runs smoothly for decades.
To avoid closures the FRB has faced in bad weather, wind barriers have been installed along the Queensferry Crossing which can withstand the strongest gusts.
About 1,000 sensors have been fitted to give advanced warning of any problems, allowing maintenance teams to pre-empt potential issues.
It has a design life of 120 years but could last longer, with the cable-stayed structure chosen because of its easier maintenance.
Project director Michael Martin was among those thanked by the First Minister during the handover ceremony.
He said: “It has been an enormous programme, 15,000 workers involved and they have done a fantastic job.
“The bridge is testament to their skill and hard work and I hope they can enjoy this celebration and the events to come.”
The Crossing will serve about 24 million vehicles each year, with the FRB to be used for buses, taxis and bikes as the strain is eased on the structure.