Queensferry Crossing closes to prepare for walks

Traffic flowed on the Queensferry Crossing for the first time on Wednesday Image copyright PA
Image caption Traffic flowed on the Queensferry Crossing for the first time on Wednesday

The new £1.35bn Queensferry Crossing has closed to traffic in preparation for thousands of people walking across it at the weekend.

The new bridge across the Forth, between Edinburgh and Fife, will remain closed for six days, with traffic diverted back to the Forth Road Bridge.

Up to 50,000 people who won tickets will be allowed a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to walk on the crossing.

They will walk over the bridge between 09:00 and 17:00 on Saturday and Sunday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Forth Road Bridge has been empty for two days since the Queensferry Crossing opened

The new bridge will then be officially opened by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, on Monday.

On Tuesday, local schools and community groups will be allowed to walk on the bridge before it is permanently closed to pedestrians.

The bridge will reopen to traffic in the early hours of Thursday 7 September.

Stein Connolly, from Transport Scotland, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that there had been huge interest in the new bridge.

"We've had feedback that people have driven across it five times, that some families have got up out of their beds early and taken their kids across it before they went to school," he said.

"You've seen, with the queues yesterday, the interest in it, so we're now following this interest up by allowing 50,000 people to walk over it."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Queensferry Crossing will be closed for six days for celebrations

There will be a 40mph speed limit in place when the bridge reopens to traffic but this will be raised to 70mph in the coming weeks when the bridge will take the M90 motorway across the Forth.

The new bridge, which opened to traffic for the first time on Wednesday, will take most of the 24 million vehicle journeys a year that currently use the existing Forth Road Bridge.

The 53-year-old suspension bridge, which lies just hundreds of yards away, will be adapted to carry cycles, pedestrians and public transport such as buses.

The decision to replace the old bridge was taken 10 years ago after corrosion was found in its cables causing the bridge to lose strength and creating concern that it could no longer carry such heavy loads.

Opening the Queensferry Crossing: What now?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new bridge was illuminated on Monday to mark the ceremonial handover to the Scottish government

Friday 1 September

The Queensferry Crossing closes to all traffic.

Traffic will be redirected back across the Forth Road Bridge.

It will remain closed until the early hours of Thursday.

Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September

About 50,000 members of the public, who were given tickets after a ballot, will get a "once in a lifetime" chance to walk over the new bridge on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday 4 September

The Queen will officially open the Queensferry Crossing. She will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will bless the bridge, and the Queen will cut a ribbon on the south side.

Tuesday 5 September

A chance for a further 10,000 local people and school children to walk the bridge.

Thursday 7 September

The bridge will re-open to traffic, with no pedestrian access.

The initial speed limit will be 40mph but after work has been completed to adapt the Forth Road Bridge public transport will be switched back to the old bridge and the Queensferry Crossing will become a 70mph motorway.

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