SPEED limits on the Queensferry Crossing could be raised from 40mph to 50mph amid warnings of another “spike” in traffic this weekend.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf announced the move was under consideration as he answered questions from MSPs on the problems of traffic congestion which have dogged the £1.35 billion crossing since it opened last week.
Mr Yousaf said he was confident measures which had been introduced in the wake of the massive tailbacks had led to an improved situation on Monday and Tuesday.
He said: “Fixed message signs have been deployed on the slip roads to the Queensferry Crossing at either end to remind drivers to use the full length of the slip to merge into the main traffic stream.
“Additional variable message has also been positioned at the Queensferry junction northbound slip.
“Consideration is also being given to raising the speed limit from 40mph to 50mph as soon as the central reservation barrier installation has been completed and it is safe to do so.”
Up until now, the 40mph limit was due to stay in place until roadworks north of the bridge are completed in four or six weeks, at which point the crossing will be subject to the full motorway speed limit of 70mph.
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who called at the weekend for the Forth Road Bridge to be reopened temporarily to ease congestion, said he was proud to have the Queensferry Crossing in his constituency and welcomed the “improving picture” on the traffic situation.
But he added: “My constituents should not have to endure another weekend such as the one we’ve just had, many waiting hours in traffic and some even losing income.”
He asked Mr Yousaf if it would be possible to allow buses and taxis to use the Forth Road Bridge now, reopen the Echline roundabout for local access and defer some of the works on the road bridge until the better weather in the spring so the bridge would be available as a back-up option if there were further problems.
Mr Yousaf said there were “difficulties” with re-opening the old road bridge to motorists.
And he added: “I think it’s important we see how this week progresses – and indeed the weekend, when there may well be a spike in tourist traffic.”
RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said an increase in traffic was always likely when the crossing opened simply because of the novelty attraction but a week on there were still significant delays.
He said: “Increasing the speed limit from 40mph to 50mph would be a good temporary step towards the eventual 70mph limit. Re-opening the Forth bridge to vehicles also seems like a sensible option if it is practical to do. Clearly, any action to tackle these terrible jams can’t come soon enough for the thousands of motorists that use the crossing every day.”