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Not ferry good


Regarding the recent correspondence on the Skye Bridge (NCE 19 May), it is worth recalling the history of the project.

Skye was traditionally served by ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin, a service that was frequently interrupted by bad weather and which by 1985 was becoming seriously overloaded. A cost benefit evaluation concluded that a £25M bridge would be a better economic proposition than upgrading the ferries. But with only around 445,000 vehicles a year the scheme ranked low in the Scottish Office road programme. There could have been a 20 year wait for public funding.

It was decided to construct a bridge immediately under a private finance scheme recovering the money by tolls.

The rules were that the tolls should be no more that the existing ferry charges, with concessions for local users, and that the bridge would become toll free as soon as the developers had recovered their construction cost of £23.64M - estimated to be some 18 years.

The scheme was on target to become toll free in about nine years, when the Scottish Executive decided to buy out the developer in 2004 with some £30M of taxpayers money. That was a political decision which in no way repudiated the action to build the bridge some 10 years earlier.

Christopher R Ford (F), 22 Russell Drive, Bearsden, Glasgow, G61 3BD

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