Watchdog says Queensferry Crossing is "value for money" and was "well-managed"

The £1.34bn Queensferry Crossing which opened to the public nearly a year ago “delivered value for money” and was managed effectively, according to a spending watchdog.

In a report published by Audit Scotland, it has praised Transport Scotland's budgeting, governance and tendering for the project, while holding back judgement on whether wider benefits will or have been realised. 

The 1.7-mile publicly-funded crossing is the biggest infrastructure project in Scotland in a generation and replaced the 53-year-old Forth Road Bridge as the main road route between Edinburgh and Fife, carrying 24 million vehicles a year.

It opened in late August last year and came under budget of at least £110m less than expected. Although the bridge did suffer from delays with bad weather blamed for the crossing finally opening eight months later than originally thought. 

Last March, the Scottish Government warned of further delays after contractors consisting of Hochtief, American Bridge, Dragados and Galliford Try reported fewer clear weather windows than expected, particularly in relation to wind.

The report says wider anticipated improvements in areas such public transport across the Forth, reduced journey times and boosting the economy were still yet to be proven and would have to be judged over time.

The report stated: "The team provided regular, consistent and up-to-date information to the project board about costs, risks, quality and timescales. This provided a strong foundation for the project to succeed."

Despite delays, the first vehicles travelled across the Queensferry Crossing in the early hours of August 30 but motorists did encounter delays in the morning rush hour as a result of the massive number of drivers wanting to cross the new structure for the first time.

Commenting on the report, auditor general Caroline Gardner said: "There is much the public sector can learn from the way Transport Scotland managed the project and it's important that the good practice is shared more widely. The management of the project delivered value for money and achieved its overall aim of maintaining a reliable road link between Fife and the Lothians. Transport Scotland now needs to produce a clearer plan about how it will measure the success of the project's wider benefits, including its contribution to economic growth and improved public transport links."

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson welcomed the report's findings and said a full post-project evaluation was planned for later in the year.

He said: "This will include an assessment of the impact of improved network connections and junctions, and the project's contribution to economic growth and exploring what further support can be offered to public transport providers to meet any future increase in demand for travel across the Forth.”

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