As the USA begins to face decades of neglect of its infrastructure, the World Economic Forum has identified Scotland’s new Queensferry Crossing project as a model example of good practice. I don’t seem to remember BBC Scotland, Kezia or Ruth saying that.
In quite an extended and detailed piece, the WEF open with:
‘The UK’s new Queensferry Crossing bridge, connecting Edinburgh to Fife in Scotland, offers an example on how to do it. Three good practices contributed to the high-quality process and outcomes: the UK planners diagnosed the problem early; took their time with careful design upfront; and built and sustained an inclusive coalition of stakeholders. The evidence speaks for itself. The Queensferry Crossing – a three-tower cable-stayed bridge with a length of 1.7 miles – opened in early September, well within budget and with a manageable 8-month time delay. This is a rare occurrence among bridges. According to research at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, nine out of 10 fixed links (bridges and tunnels) suffer an average cost overrun of 34% and a time delay of roughly 2 years.’
The authors then contrast the Queensferry Crossing project will the ill-fated Bay Bridge in California
‘The American bridge – a self-anchored single tower suspension bridge with a length of 2.2 miles – blew its budget, costing US$6.5 billion, and took roughly 24 years to complete, nearly a decade past its initial projected completion date. Conversely, the Queensferry, comparable in scope to the Bay Bridge, took roughly 11 years to plan and build at almost a quarter of the price. The Bay Bridge cost estimate drifted upwards through its life: it started at $1 billion (in 1996) and was revised upwards several times: to $1.3b (1997); $2.6b (2001); $5.5b (2005); and finally, to the actual cost of $6.5b (actual outturn cost in 2015). The pain has not gone away since the opening of the bridge: costly litigation and quality disputes continue. Meanwhile, San Francisco commuters pay the price at the tolls every day.’
I really wish I’d had this report earlier to smack down the ill-informed and petty Unionist criticism of the Queensferry Crossing project. If you know anyone connected with the project or in the SNP government, they might be pleased to read this.