“Serious” consideration needs to be given to the road layout on either side of the new Queensferry Crossing if the area is to cope with congestion, it has been claimed.
It follows fresh concern that the road system for accessing the £1.35bn structure has been “not thought through” as the new week heralded the arrival of renewed delays and long queues.
Critics are now saying people’s livelihoods could be put at risk unless something is done to ease the congestion.
But infrastructure secretary Keith Brown moved to defend the new bridge, saying the “huge” level of interest was to be expected and that things would improve when it became “less of a novelty”.
Keith Giblett, chairman of Queensferry and District Community Council, said the congestion was preventing local residents from going about their daily lives and was compounding what had already been a “difficult” few months.
He said: “It’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse.
“Why did they have to completely shut the Forth Road Bridge? I don’t get this.
“I know they have significant works to do with the bridge but they could have a contraflow system on the bridge for the buses rather than close the whole bridge.
“Somebody’s not thought this through, that’s our general view.”
Mr Giblett said he suspected the Queensferry roundabout was already over capacity and urged transport officials to look “seriously” at the road issues, for example whether traffic signalling could be improved.
However he added the community council had “no confidence” that people’s concerns would be properly considered.
Local residents were quick to come forward with ideas for what could be done to help after Alex Cole-Hamilton, Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western, called for the Forth Road Bridge to be temporarily re-opened to help ease the delays.
Suggestions include improving the merging system for coming on and off the crossing and using the hard shoulder as a bus lane. Another option floated was re-opening the Echline roundabout, albeit with barriers to prevent motorists from driving on to the old bridge.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said he had been “inundated” messages from constituents concerned about the gridlock.
He said: “So long as we have got these layout issues it’s just not sustaining the capacity that the old Forth Road Bridge used to. Transport Scotland needs to have an honest assessment of what the issues are.”
However infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said he had spoken to Transport Scotland about what more could be done.
In response to Mr Cole-Hamilton’s concerns, he told BBC Scotland: “We always anticipated this huge level of interest. What we currently have is the same capacity as before - one bridge opened, 40mph, average speed cameras.
“I know it can be extremely frustrating but we have to get to the stage of being able to open both bridges and thereby alleviate the some of the pressure that is currently being felt.
“We are not digging up the Forth Road Bridge as Alex Cole-Hamilton said.
“Also, the Forth Road Bridge is still open to active travellers - bicycles and people walking over the bridge.”
“I’ve asked Transport Scotland to see if there’s more that we can do. And we have seen some improvements today.
“Hopefully when it becomes less of a novelty it will improve even further and within four to six weeks we expect to see the old bridge open and some of that further capacity released.”
Transport Scotland it appreciated road users’ patience as the new layout bedded in. A spokesman said: “The Forth Road Bridge will become a public transport corridor in the autumn, until then we are not going to get a true picture of operational performance.”
They said officers were monitoring the new network to identify congestion points.