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Sunday, June 06, 2010


Milau Viaduct - designed to be beautiful & still 1/6th the price our politicians want

The current proposal is for a smaller bridge than the current one costed at £2,300 million. The previous administration had intended a larger one costed at £4,200 million.

The previous Forth Road Bridge, completed in 1966, cost £19 million. This is equal to £320 million in today's money.

15th January 2009 - Forth Replacement Crossing Debate –
Scotland’s biggest ever project - 17 MSPs turned up. To be fair this is one more than turned up on 4th April 2000 for a presentation on the proposed new Holyrood building.

Most of the world's large suspension bridges cost $4,500-$5,000 per sq metre. The new Forth crossing is costed at $64,000 sq metre.

Only 2 bridge projects have cost above £4 bn - the Japanese Pearl bridge - the world's longest, wider & built to withstand earthquakes & hurricanes; & the Oresund combined bridge & tunnel project, which is wider & totals over 8 km, linking Sweden & Denmark & including an artificial island.

The economist Professor John Kay, a member of the Scottish government’s Council of Economic Advisers, last week described the price of the bridge as “very high and extremely hard to justify”.

By comparison the Severn Bridge cost £480 million in 1996 (equivalent to £810 million in today's costs). Still high by world standards but not remotely comparable to the rip off we are facing.

The QE 2 bridge at Dartford cost £96 million (£139 million today); the Millau Viaduct in France is £400 million in today's (they spent extra to make it beautiful); Stonecutters bridge Hong Kong £234 million.

I will be contacting other MSPs to see if any of them can improve on the record of the Glaswegians MSPs (84% no replies, on saying there must be geological reasons which cannot be specified, making Scotland so many times more expensive than anywhere else in the world & equally moreso than 50 years ago. What the unspecified & unnoticed upheaval in Scotland's ground structure has been is not known.

The evidence shows that it would be perfectly possible to build this bridge for the same cost that such bridges are built elsewhere in the world but that even this would be unnecessarily expensive - we can build a tunnel or recable the current bridge with stronger cables & expand the roadway for a small fraction of even that price. However if we are not being deliberately stolen from on a truly massive scale then all the other MSPs should have no difficulty answering. We shall see - this has the makings of a scandal that makes the Holyrood costing look honest.

HT to Tom Minogue & this presentation

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I think an extra span woumerely increase the cost proportionately but if we talk about increasing the length of a single span I can see that might be likely to increase geometrically - the longer it is not only does the weight it supports increase but the weight of the supporting cablework does. On the other hand on that account as the strength of materials increases the cost of long spans should reduce for the same reasons & thus a new bridge should cost less than the £320 million adjusted price of the old one.

I suspect the cost of building extra floors has also reduced in the interim because of stronger materials.
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