15 May 2008

S3M-1297 Upper Forth Crossing

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 15 May 2008

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

... ... ...

Upper Forth Crossing

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S3M-1297, in the name of John Park, on the upper Forth crossing. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the progress being made in constructing the Upper Forth crossing; looks forward to its planned opening in 2008; recognises that when both crossings are operational this will greatly improve the road infrastructure and cut journey times around Kincardine; is concerned that increasingly the Forth Road Bridge is closed to high-sided vehicles, placing a burden on the A985, A907 and A997; accepts that the existing Kincardine crossing is planned to close for a maintenance period following the opening of the Upper Forth crossing; is concerned that Kincardine will suffer severe traffic congestion as vehicles are diverted through and around the village to the new crossing, and is further concerned that the villages situated on the A907, such as Oakley, Blairhall, Carnock, Saline and Gowkhall will also be subjected to unprecedented levels of traffic congestion.


... ... ...


The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): I commend John Park for lodging the motion and for using the opportunity that it presents to highlight local issues. That is precisely the kind of action that I would expect to see from a committed and energetic member who is representing his area in the proper manner. I congratulate him on what I believe is his first members' business debate, and I hope that he will have more.

We are all looking forward to the changes that we will see at the end of the work that is currently in progress, when the new bridge opens and the existing bridge has been re-engineered. As Keith Brown mentioned, I was in Alloa earlier today, and crossed the existing bridge, which enabled me to once again note how integral the traffic flow from that bridge is to the village of Kincardine. Indeed, my two visits to the new upper Forth crossing have allowed me to become familiar with what is happening in the village. I have a long-term familiarity with what has been happening in Kincardine and, indeed, in many of the surrounding areas. I absolutely respect and acknowledge the concerns that John Park and other members have expressed. We will, of course, get to the point at which we have resolved those problems, but how will that happen?

John Park and others referred to closures of the Forth road bridge. It is proper to make reference to that because of the effect of diverted traffic from there to the upper Forth crossings. Some 80 per cent of goods traffic crossing the Forth already does so via the upper Forth crossings. Nonetheless, the addition of the other 20 per cent presents a significant problem for Kincardine and other communities in the area.

To mitigate the effect of the occasional closures of the lower Forth crossing and the works in the upper Forth area, we hope to ensure that the diversion signage is placed further away from the crossing than has been the case to date. That will ensure that some of the traffic can anticipate the closure of the Forth road bridge and go north via Stirling, which is an effective diversion route that uses motorways and dual carriageways.

Reference has been made to the fact that the lower Forth crossing has experienced more closures and accidents this year than in previous years. I draw that gently to Ted Brocklebank's attention. However, the numbers are small, so it is difficult to be clear what the effect is each year. Clearly, bridges can be designed so that they are not closed by weather. The new Severn crossing, which uses wind protection of the kind that the replacement Forth crossing will have, has not closed since it was opened, while the older bridge, which is parallel to it, continues to experience significant numbers of closures. That enables us to see the direct effect of the mitigation measures.

There was a call for traffic calming on the A907. I understand that there is a weak bridge on that road, which makes it particularly important that, as far as possible in planning for new traffic flows, we direct traffic away from there. My officials are actively engaged in considering alternative routes. We need to consider changing the ways in which we direct people during diversions, so that rather than having a constant flow of diverted traffic through one route, the routes are changed over time. In other words, that means sharing the pain, which I regret, but it will give relief to communities while we carry out the work on the existing crossing, which was opened in 1936.

Continuing engagement with the communities that will be affected is also important, so that their experience can feed directly into our plans. Members have made reference to further extensions of the railway network, which of course takes traffic off bridges throughout Scotland. I am very keen on railways, as members know. However, that is a subject to which we will return on another occasion.

All the work on the upper Forth should be completed by 2010, some two years from now, which is encouraging. We are preparing a route action plan for the A985 that will look at a series of short, medium and long-term improvements that will accommodate not only bridge traffic, but east-west movements. That study will be completed shortly. It is estimated that the existing bridge will be closed for 18 months—a number of members have referred to that—but I hope that it will be closed for a somewhat shorter period. We will need to examine that as planning goes forward.

I will engage with officials to consider whether we can keep one lane open, although I am not optimistic that that option is available to us, as there are considerable engineering difficulties with the existing structure, which could be exacerbated if we put traffic on one side of it. I am, however, open to considering that further.

John Park: I ask the minister to communicate that as effectively as he can, not necessarily to members in the chamber but to the communities around Kincardine. It would be useful for them to know whether that will happen or not.

Stewart Stevenson: I welcome the fact that representatives of those communities are in the public gallery, hearing what we have to say. They are hearing that we are continuing to work, and that we wish to work, with communities to come up with the best of all possible options. However, it is worth saying there will be some disruption, which we will have to plan for carefully.

I very much enjoyed my visit to Fife; I was brought up there, as members have mentioned. I hope that the Scottish Rail Preservation Society successfully completed its three planned trips between Alloa and Kincardine today, hauled by steam traction—but let us look forward. As well as preserving the best of the past, I hope that we will be able to deliver for the communities of Fife.

Meeting closed at 17:43.

Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP