FRC is a major infrastructure project for Scotland, designed to take over from the current Forth Road Bridge as the long-term crossing of the Firth of Forth. Construction of this vital road and bridge connection began in the autumn of 2011 and is due for completion in 2016.
Transport Scotland appointed the Jacobs Arup Joint Venture in January 2008, to assist with progressing development of the scheme chosen by the Scottish Government; a cable-stayed bridge situated to the west of the existing Forth Road Bridge.
In January 2009, Transport Scotland staged a series of public information exhibitions in communities on the north and south side of the Firth of Forth to facilitate consultation with the public and gain feedback on the developing proposals for the scheme.
In November 2009, the Forth Crossing Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament. This was to ensure that there is a continuing and reliable primary road-link between Edinburgh and the Lothians and Fife, and beyond. The Bill was approved by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and received Royal Assent on 20 January 2011, with the Forth Crossing Act coming into force on 18 March 2011.
This challenging programme required the project team to quickly identify both the general topography and specific landmarks within the area, then highlight key constraints that would affect development of the preferred route.
The connecting roads strategy was one of the major pieces of work undertaken by the Forth Replacement Crossing team. Alan Gillies, Network Connections Technical Manager, is a member of the team responsible for the motorway roads leading to and from the new bridge. ‘It was critical to keep to the timescales of the project, which allowed a fixed period for development and consultation followed by a five-year construction programme to allow the new bridge to be available by 2016. We therefore needed early information very quickly.’
Ordnance Survey data, provided through the One Scotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA), was used to assist with identifying and assessing various options for the connecting roads. This information, combined with Transport Scotland’s own images and measurements, enabled preliminary designs to be progressed.
‘Ordnance Survey data is easy to use and provides the right detail for presentations and quick understanding.’ comments Gillies. ‘By gaining a speedy view of key topographical features (such as boundaries, buildings, existing roads, populations and water courses) we were able to scope the extent of the environmental, topographical and geotechnical surveys required for each of the connecting road options. By the end of 2008, we had identified the preferred routes which maximised use of the existing road network and resulted in less impact on the environment, local communities and individual properties.’
- Ordnance Survey mapping allowed the design team to begin work quickly and conduct all the necessary environmental surveys (some of which were seasonally dependent), within the first year.
- Full physical surveys, which can cost in the region of £500,000 and which need to go through a full and prolonged tender process, were only commissioned once, as Ordnance Survey data was able to demonstrate the feasibility of a route.
- The ability to present data visually to those who do not have engineering background facilitated understanding and discussion early on. More than 2,200 people attended exhibitions at a range of venues in Fife, Edinburgh and West Lothian in January 2009 and just over 200 responses were received.
- The early scheduling gains meant that proposals were in time for the introduction of the Forth Crossing Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
- One year into construction, the project is meeting all interim milestones and is on target for the delivery date of 2016.