Queensferry Crossing set for further delay due to adverse weather
The opening of the new Queensferry Crossing is set to be further delayed due to "adverse weather conditions", it has been confirmed.
Economy Secretary Keith Brown told MSPs that the bridge's contractors had indicated that strong winds had affected the estimated completion date.
He will give an update on the revised timescale on Wednesday.
The bridge was originally due to open in December but bad weather had already delayed the completion date until May.
Mr Brown said he would provide an update to the Scottish Parliament's rural economy and connectivity (REC) committee on Wednesday.
The £1.35bn link will replace the Forth Road Bridge as the main road route between Edinburgh and Fife.
The final section of the deck was lifted into place last month.
Mr Brown was pressed for clarity on the opening date by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser following press reports that the bridge was facing further delays.
Mr Brown said he had asked contractor FCBC to carry out "a thorough review of their programme" following his appearance at the REC committee on 8 March.
Queensferry Crossing - fact and figures
The structure is 207m above high tide (683ft), equivalent to about 48 double decker buses stacked on top of each other.
It is 50m (25%) higher than existing Forth Road Bridge
The steel required for the bridge deck weighs a total of 35,000 tonnes - equivalent to almost 200 Boeing 747s
The combined steel required for North and South viaducts weighs 7,000 tonnes - enough to make another 23 Kelpies.
The bridge has windshielding to almost entirely eliminate the need for closures during the frequent periods of high winds in the Forth estuary.
"That work has indicated that adverse weather conditions, particularly wind, has had an impact on the removal of the construction cranes and, therefore, on the estimated completion date," he said.
"Transport Scotland is currently assessing that review carried out by FCBC and I expect to receive a report from them this evening.
"I've agreed to provide a detailed update to the committee tomorrow morning."
Mr Fraser said this would be the second delay in the completion of the bridge.
"We were promised by the first minister previously it would be completed by the end of last year, we were then told by the cabinet secretary it would be completed by the end of May, we are now looking at a further delay.
"When will it be ready?" he asked.
Mr Brown would not be drawn on reports that contractors had asked for the completion date to be extended to September.
He said the seven-year project was about a quarter of a billion pounds below budget "and that won't change".
"This bridge will be there for 120 years, it's very important that we both get it right and that we do it safely," he added.
He added that as a result of high winds, it had taken 65 days to take down one of the cranes - a process which would normally have taken 15 days.