CEEQUAL Excellent (90.7%) – Whole Project Award
Version 4, March 2018 | Queensferry, Scotland
Client: Transport Scotland;
Contractors: Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (Dragados, American Bridge International, Hochtief and Morrison Construction);
Designers: Ramboll, SWECO, Leonhardt Andra und Partner; Jacobs / Arup (Joint venture)
The Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) is the project behind the Queensferry Crossing, the new road bridge connecting both sides of the Firth of Forth. By adding to the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, Transport Scotland has safeguarded one of the most vital connections in Scotland’s transport network. The Queensferry Crossing opened to traffic on 30 August 2017.
The new bridge was designed and developed with an international team of architects and engineers. It is the tallest bridge in the UK, and an iconic structure with a 2.7km span over the Firth of Forth. 23,000 miles of cabling suspends the bridge from three narrow and elegant towers.
The Queensferry Crossing is replacing, not increasing, the road provision for general traffic. Future travel growth will be accommodated by increased use of public transport. As a dedicated public transport corridor, the existing Forth Road Bridge will provide additional infrastructure capacity for sustainable forms of travel, including walking and cycling.
While the new bridge is the most eye-catching element of the project, the scheme also involves a major improvement to the trunk road network in the east of Scotland with the upgrading of 19.7 km of roads connecting to the new crossing and the building of 4 km of new connecting roads. These plans were developed after extensive consultation with local communities and other stakeholders. By maximising the use of the existing road network, the FRC’s connecting roads resulted in less impact on the environment, properties and communities.
An Intelligent Transport System (ITS) is being used along the length of the Queensferry Crossing and connecting roads. The result is that a 22 km ‘Managed Motorway’ regulates the traffic travelling across the Forth with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the road, reducing congestion and improving road safety.
Over 400,000 new trees, grown from the seeds of local trees, were planted. The new planting comprises large blocks of woodland, smaller areas of scrub woodland, hedgerows and individual trees, to integrate the new roads into the surrounding landscape and provide screening where required.
Transport Scotland procured all the trees through a separate contract with a plant nursery to prepare, supply and deliver good quality, local provenance stock throughout the construction period for use in the landscape and ecological mitigation planting. When areas of the site became available, these areas were planted to allow early establishment of the trees. Two areas were also planted in advance of the construction works starting and so benefitted from at least 5 years of growth before the new roads opened.
The design of the project ensured existing stone walls and other built landscape features were protected and retained where practicable. Field boundaries which were removed or disturbed along the A904 road were replaced with boundaries using the same design and materials as the original boundaries.
Ecology and Biodiversity
The Firth of Forth has a number of protected ecological sites, including Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Before any construction work started, a large number of ecological surveys were undertaken to ensure appropriate mitigation measures were designed into the scheme. This included construction noise limits to minimise disturbance to birds in the marine environment. In addition, extensive mammal fencing and a number of mammal crossings were incorporated into the new roads.
An unavoidable impact from the project was the direct loss of land within St Margaret’s Marsh SSSI, which is notified for two habitat features; transition saltmarsh (reedbed) and saltmarsh. Both of these habitats are uncommon in Scotland.
In consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage it was agreed that a commitment to restore the remaining marsh to favourable conservation status was the preferred option to ensure long-term biodiversity benefits. A management plan was developed and a steering group set up which included input from local community groups and other organisations.
The mitigation required hard engineering for improving the water balance on the marsh and provide increased inundation by sea water on the salt marsh vegetation to direct the recovery of the designated features. This involved the construction of 3 sea-wall sluices to the Firth of Forth, in addition to 5 internal sluices between the compartments within the marsh.
The success of the mitigation is being monitored so it can be measured in terms of returning the site to conservation status. The effectiveness of the inundation strategy, management interventions and the direction the desired vegetation develops requires an adaptive long-term management strategy and iterative approach to ensure success. To date, the management of the saltwater inundation and reed management have seen a decline in the dominance of the reed over some of the site which is facilitating a diversification of the plant community.
The historic environment
Extensive archaeological works were undertaken in advance of construction starting. This comprised trial trenching and recording throughout the site, with further investigation undertaken wherever items of interest were discovered.
Evidence of a 10,000 year old Mesolithic Round House was identified during the excavations of a field at Echline in South Queensferry. A large oval pit was discovered along with hearths, flint and arrowheads. The radiocarbon dating showed this site to be one of the oldest of its type found in Scotland. The discovery has added valuable information to the understanding of buildings erected by Scotland’s first settlers after the last glaciation.
Energy and Carbon
The development of the Queensferry Crossing project was influenced by a desire to minimise embodied carbon which resulted in making maximum use of existing infrastructure, reducing the scale of new construction and applying best practice during design and construction. This included retaining the Forth Road Bridge as a Public Transport Corridor and an improved active travel route.
For operation of the Queensferry Crossing scheme, maximum use has been made of new technology to increase the efficiency of the network and reduce emissions related to congestion. This is achieved through implementation of Intelligent Transport System (ITS) measures, which improve traffic flow and minimise stop-start traffic conditions. The Queensferry Crossing has also been designed to allow individual cables to be replaced during maintenance without closing the bridge. Intelligent LED lighting systems have been introduced to allow lighting to dim when not required.
During construction the contractor also made efforts to minimise carbon emissions through optimising the cut/fill strategy to avoid the requirement for materials being transported off-site, using recycled concrete for fill and drainage and having an on-site concrete batching plant to minimise transportation.
Effects on Neighbours
The effect on neighbours was an important consideration from the start of the planning process for the project. The Queensferry Crossing and the new southern approach road are located close to residential areas which had previously had a semi-rural setting. This required a careful design to ensure visual and traffic noise impacts from the project were minimised. Extensive community consultation was undertaken and an Environmental Statement was published.
Mitigation for traffic noise included a combination of acoustic barrier and embankment. Additionally, low road noise surfacing was used on the mainline roads. Extensive woodland planting was carried out to screen views of the new roads and traffic with early planting undertaken in many areas.
A Code of Construction Practice (CoCP) was also published which set out an extensive set of controls to ensure the construction phase of the project had minimal impact on the surrounding communities.
A stringent noise control regime was in place during construction which included noise limits as set out in the CoCP. Another requirement was for the formation of a number of working groups, including a Noise Liaison Group (NLG). This group, which included members from the client, contractor and local authorities, met monthly throughout the construction period to discuss ongoing and future works and noise levels. Noisy activities were controlled by a Plan for the Control of Noise and Vibration which was agreed by the NLG. Monitoring stations were located around the site boundary which continually recorded noise levels. The results of the monitoring and the minutes from each NLG meeting were made publically available through the project website.
Similarly, during construction, air quality monitoring stations were also located around the site with real-time results available to the contractor to assist with management of activities which generated high levels of dust. Air quality was discussed at regular Environmental Liaison Group meetings which were attended by local authority representatives. Monthly air quality monitoring reports were also made available on the project website.
A dedicated enquiry helpline was set up at the start of the construction period to allow members of the public to contact the project team with any queries or concerns.
Relations with the Local Community and other Stakeholders
The FRC Project set a new standard for engagement with directly affected communities and wider stakeholders on infrastructure projects in Scotland. The commitment of the project team to ‘Engage with Communities’ was set out at the outset with an agreement to develop a strategy for Engaging with Communities within the CoCP.
A comprehensive and varied programme was developed to effectively engage with local communities and wider stakeholders throughout the project development phase, designed to take place at specific stages in the project’s development to communicate and gather feedback on new findings and information, options and important decisions, and as various elements of the scheme were improved or amended following feedback.
Transport Scotland adopted the National Standards for Community Engagement on the FRC Project. The National Standards are aimed at ensuring communities and affected individuals have their voices heard in the planning and delivery of services.
The standards we followed included:
• Involvement: we identified and involved the people and organisations who had an interest in the focus of our engagement.
• Support: we identified and overcame any barriers to involvement.
• Planning: we gathered evidence of the needs and available resources and used this evidence to agree the purpose, scope and timescale of our engagement and the actions to be taken.
• Methods: we agreed and used methods of engagement that were fit for purpose.
• Working together: we agreed and used clear procedures that enabled the participants to work with one another effectively and efficiently.
• Sharing information: we ensured that necessary information was communicated between the participants.
The FRC Project was subject to a review by Audit Scotland during 2017/2018 following the opening of the Queensferry Crossing. The Audit Scotland review report prepared for the Auditor General for Scotland was published in August 2018 and commended Transport Scotland for consulting and engaging well with people with an interest in the project, noting that the FRC team was proactive with engagement and communication.
During construction, a range of communication methods were used to keep local communities and wider stakeholders informed, including project update newsletters, a dedicated email address and project hotline, a community liaison team, community forums, regular public meetings and presentations, and regular updates via the project website, press releases, notice boards within local communities and mail drops, and importantly via face to face engagement with members of the project team at the dedicated purpose built Contact and Education Centre.
The creation of the FRC Contact and Education Centre (CEC), opened in January 2013, was a major achievement for the project in terms of comprehensive community engagement and education during the project’s construction. Its main aims were to provide high-quality contact and education centre services to local residents and visitors while emphasising the project’s purpose, investment value and innovation in construction, as well as promoting the potential benefits a career in engineering can provide.
The CEC included the FRC Project Exhibition and other facilities which provided local residents and wider stakeholders with access to regularly updated exhibition panels, detailed bridge models, audio/visual materials and presentations by project team members, and also provided spectacular views of the Forth Estuary, including views of the Queensferry Crossing under construction. The CEC hosted an extensive educational programme for schools, colleges and universities, providing learning events and opportunities to discover more about the field of engineering. Over 30,000 pupils attended during construction, including pupils from many local schools. The wider outreach and education programme attracted over 70,000 people across all activities during construction.