New bridge over Forth opens
The new £120 million Clackmannanshire Bridge over the Firth of Forth was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond today.
The crossing, designed to alleviate traffic pressure on the Kincardine Bridge, is the second largest of its type in the world. It includes an extensive network of new cycleways and footpaths and provides transport links between Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Fifem improving road safety and opening up the wider area to economic benefits.
Approximately 20,000 vehicles per day are predicted to use the new bridge, with traffic on the existing Kincardine bridge reduced from approximately 30,100 vehicles per day at present to approximately 18,100 vehicles.
At the opening ceremony the FM was joined by Joseph McDermott, a trainee engineer and the second generation in his family to work on a local bridge as his grandfather worked on the Kincardine Bridge.
Mr Salmond said:
"Transport is a fundamental part of the Scottish Government's drive to encourage sustainable economic growth. This is a world-class infrastructure project which will cut journey times, improve central Scotland connections, and provide a unique gateway to Clackmannanshire, Fife and Falkirk.
"Better, safer and faster transport links are key to our work to drive tourism. With the Year of Homecoming fast approaching I'm delighted to see links opening up, providing fast, unique routes between the exciting events taking place across Fife and the Central Belt. The Meet Your Ancestors events in Clackmannanshire, the Johnnie Walker Golf Championship in Fife, and the Falkirk Wheel are just some of the reasons to cross the bridge in 2009.
"For local communities the Clackmannanshire Bridge will deliver not only visitors, but safer roads and environmental benefits. It will remove the long-standing congestion from the centre of Kincardine, encourage safe cycling, whilst benefitting local businesses.
"Equally, we have been clear in our commitment to invest in all forms of sustainable transport. The rises in rail and bus passenger numbers are very encouraging and show that more and more people across the country are taking advantage of public transport. That is why we will continue to invest heavily in public transport whilst celebrating this new gateway for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians."
The project has been carried out by Morgan Vinci, a joint venture between Moragn Est and Vinci - the world's biggest construction company.
Throughout the development of the scheme, engineers, engineering consultants and environmental consultants have ensured that the scheme respects the environment, both in operation and the impact the construction will have on the Forth Estuary's bird feeding grounds.
To mitigate the effects of the scheme on the area's ecology a number of measures are to be adopted:
Creation of additional mudflats and saltmarsh to provide alternative roosting and feeding areas for wintering birds
Avoidance of construction work on the new bridge and refurbishment of the old occurring over three consecutive winters
At present approximately 16,500 vehicles pass through Kincardine village every day. Now that the Clackmannanshire Bridge crossing is complete it is estimated that only 2,800 vehicles per day will pass through the village, a reduction of over 80 per cent
The project was managed by Transport Scotland, the agency responsible for road, rail and national concessionary travel which is directly accountable to Scottish Ministers.