Friday, July 02, 2010
I have received this reply, at the behest of an SNP minister, which I am fisking. I have highlighted things I think important & put my comments in italics:
Dear Mr Craig
Thank you for your email of 24 June 2010 to the Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Jim Mather MSP regarding the Forth Replacement Crossing.
As this is a matter delegated to Transport Scotland, your email has been passed to me for a reply.
The outrun cost of the Forth Replacement Crossing Project is estimated to be between £1.72 billion and £2.34 billion. The estimated cost of the main crossing itself is estimated to be just 26% of the total project cost (£543 million) or 37% of the total once allowances for risk and optimism bias are included (£748 million). The financial memorandum for the Forth Crossing Bill can be found on page 41 of the Explanatory notes to the Bill (http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/33-ForthCrossing/b33s3-introd-en.pdf). p43 of the pdf
The Forth Replacement Crossing Project includes the new crossing and improvements to the road network to support the crossing. Around 4km of connecting roads will be built to tie the new crossing into the main trunk road network. To the south of the bridge, a new dual carriageway will link the crossing to the A90 and M9 making use of the recently completed M9 spur.
To the north, a new dual carriageway will connect the bridge to the A90/M90, incorporating junction enhancements at Admiralty and Ferrytoll and road widening between those junctions.
The estimated cost for the bridge is compared with a number of similar bridges in The Forth Replacement Crossing Analysis of Costs produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) and can be found on the Scottish Parliament Bill Committees web pages: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/forthXbill/Documents4.htm. I'll write on these in detail in future but even taking the cost at £ 748 million, as the comparison does, the new Forth bridge is far more expensive
A tunnel was considered during 2006/2007 when Transport Scotland undertook the Forth Replacement Crossing Study (FRCS) (http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/projects/forth-replacement-crossing/information-centre/frc-study) again I will write on that site in future but the simple version is that, again, international comparisons average only a small fraction of construction only prices given here to ascertain the most suitable form of crossing to replace the Forth Road Bridge (FRB). This was in response to the Forth Estuary Transport Authority’s (FETA’s) reports that the cables of the existing bridge are deteriorating and the subsequent uncertainty over the future of this vital connection in the country’s transport network.
The FRCS concluded that a cable-stayed bridge upstream of the FRB was the best performing option against the Study criteria. The factors considered were cost; cost risk; impact on the environment; operating restrictions; operating risk and time to construct. tunnels generally take less time than bridges to complete, a further advantage is that since a 2 way tunnel will be cut 1 tunnel at a time the first leg can be used to carry peak hour traffic, reversing direction about noon, quickly thus greatly increasing the total capacity of the system The life design of both bridge and tunnel was estimated to be 120 years this effectively means it will last as long as maintenance is carried out. Telford's bridges are still standing as indeed is the Eiffel Tower which was originally intended to be pulled down after a few years and the maintenance costs were also determined to be broadly similar.
The Study concluded that the tunnel would be more complex to construct with more risks, and consequently, more costly. bolleaux In addition, tunnels are restricted in the goods that may be transported through them, such as whisky and oil. Operating restrictions would, therefore, need to be implemented. this looks like an excuse - the number of tankers carrying whisky is very limited & & would not justify the billions involved. The bridge also has operational restrictions when it is windy & they aren't limited to tankers. I would be interested to know if any haulier at all gas contacted FETA demanding a bridge on the grounds that a tunnel would seriously affect their profits
With regard to replacing the cables on the Forth Road Bridge, in February 2008 FETA reported that it would be possible to replace or augment the cables should this be necessary. They concluded that this replacement work would not be feasible, in practical terms, unless a replacement crossing were provided prior to the work taking place. I very seriously doubt the truth of this - Lisbon's 25th April bridge does not appear to have been closed when it underwent not merely a recabling but also double decking. It might be necessary to limit the work to late at night or weekends, which might double the cost to £ 20 million(!) but with the bill we are being offered that is nothing
In July 2008 a second cable inspection found that the cables had continued to deteriorate and had now lost 10% of their original strength. However, this rate of deterioration was less than had been expected. that nails it - "less than expected" deterioration for a bridge which, if similar to the present proposal, was expected to last 120 years, is not the alleged unexpected catastrophe we are being told about The rate of decay suggests that HGV restrictions may need to be imposed at some time between 2017 and 2021.
Aside from the cabling issues, a number of ongoing and significant maintenance issues remain. For the bridge to continue to carry the existing levels of traffic it would require replacement of main joints, deck resurfacing, extensive refurbishment to the deck stringer beam half-joints between each section of the decks, strengthening of the deck truss and upgrades to the parapets. all simple maintenance - none comparable to the strengthening of the towers whci has previously been done
The Forth Road Bridge cannot on its own provide the capacity and level of service required for the future. The imperative for a replacement crossing remains in light of the vital importance of a Forth crossing to the Scottish transport network and economy. the real reason for expansion is the expectation of a growing economy & increased traffic. That is indeed the proper reason for doing so, however the politicians, who have already voted to destroy half our economy over the next 9 years in the eco-fascist cause haven't the guts to say this so instead they push the the disgraceful (& unpatriotic) lie that the Scottish engineers who built the bridge did do so so incompetently that, unlike every comparable bridge in the world, it is about to fall down. (an MSP once told me that my proposal not to demolish the Red Road flats was equally impractical because the builders had been so incompetent & I don't believe him either). The consequence of lying about the reason seriously limits the "politically acceptable" options to the most expensive & then allows eco-fascist bureaucratic parasitism to push up cost far more - this will be tomorrow's sermon With a replacement crossing in place which will carry the main burden of traffic, the Forth Road Bridge will retain sufficient strength to act as a dedicated public transport corridor.
I hope you find this reply helpful.
Policy and Communications Officer
Forth Replacement Crossing Team
Thank you for your letter Andrew, which I have put on my blog with comments. While cost is given as a reason for not building a tunnel you do not repeat the £4673 million figure & are relying also on the difficulty of transporting oil & whisky.
Is it specifically claimed that recabling cannot take place without closing the bridge? If so that would be an argument for a tunnel since, as the Norwegians have shown, it could be cut quickly allowing earlier recabling. Has any haulier written to gthe scottish government saying that restrictions on their cargos would so seriously affect their profits that it should be a majgor consideration in this multi billion £ project?
If only a minority of the money is going to be spent on the bridge itself & the other main factor being new roads that seems to be an argument for recabling the bridge since roads to it already exist. It does seem to be a high cost for roads.
I take it that our government does not dispute that the Lisbon recabling cost £10 million & that similar Norwegian tunneling projects have indeed cost around £40 million?
Since the entry & exit points of a tunnel are not nearly as limited as with a bridge I would assume it could be fitted more easily & cheaply into the present road system - indeed is there any reason why the endpoints should not be beside the access roads to the current bridge if road costs are really such an overwhelming
You, or anybody else who understands the government case, are welcome to comment on my blog.
If the Government told you the sun rises and sets every day you'd point to the North Pole to prove it doesn't.