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Scots keep options open on Forth Road Bridge alternative

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SCOTTISH TRANSPORT minister Stewart Stevenson last week confirmed that bridge and tunnel options for replacing the corrosion weakened Forth Road Bridge will go to public consultation during the summer.

He also told the Scottish Parliament that with cost estimates ranging from £2.5bn to £4.7bn, a final decision on the location and type of crossing would be made by late autumn.

'The estimated cost of the bridge option at 2016 outturn prices will be between £2.5bn and £3.5bn and for the tunnel between £3.6bn and £4.7bn, ' said Stevenson.

'The eyes of the world will be upon us as we proceed to construction of this major project that will deliver real benefits for the economy of the whole of Scotland.

'I am determined that the world will witness the delivery of a world class project in a world class way.' Target completion date for the new crossing is now 2016 - three years later than the worstcase scenario of a ban on heavy goods vehicles on the existing bridge. But this date is still three years before the bridge has to close if repairs fail.

Consultants Jacobs, Faber Maunsell, Grant Thornton and Tribal Consulting originally backed a cable stayed bridge west of the current bridge.

But the Scottish Executive has decided to keep open the more expensive tunnel option.

Deep bore tunnel and immersed tube techniques are still under consideration.

Stevenson also told the Scottish Parliament this week that completion of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road scheme had been put back until the winter of 2012/2013 and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link would be delayed by a year so that the Paisley-Glasgow resignalling work could be completed before it opened.

He also confirmed that despite the SNP election campaign promises to replace PPP/PFI procurement, the current PPP tendering process for the M80 Stepps-Haggs gap link will continue, allowing the road to open in 2011. A PPP scheme is also a possibility for the M8 BalliestonNewhouse link project.

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