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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 15:39 GMT
New bridge campaign given boost
Forth Road Bridge
The existing bridge is said to be insufficient for predicted traffic
A campaign to build a new bridge across the Firth of Forth has overwhelmingly won the backing of members of Fife Chamber of Commerce.

A survey showed 98% of its members wanted a new crossing to help the local economy as well as reduce congestion.

Campaigners started a bid for funding by launching a petition at the Scottish Parliament in December.

It follows a warning the current road bridge could fail to cope with traffic levels within six years.

Alan Russell, Fife Chamber's chief executive, said: "The Forth crossings are of major strategic importance to the Fife economy and that of the entire east of Scotland.

"There is a very real danger, which our members are clearly concerned by, that inappropriate solutions to the trans-Forth transportation problems will significantly damage businesses and livelihoods.

Bridge tolls

"For example, the Forth Estuary Transport Authority's proposal of increasing bridge tolls at peak times will effectively represent a tax on people doing business in Fife and will not do anything to reduce congestion.

"We are strongly opposed to any increase in toll charges at this time."

He said 87% of those surveyed were not in favour of Feta's proposal to raise toll charges.

And added that 93% also expressed a belief the anticipated closure of the Forth Road Bridge to HGVs by 2014, followed by possible complete closure by 2019, would have a significant negative impact on the Fife Economy.

Executive report

Meanwhile, an expert report on the state of the bridge has been submitted to ministers.

The independent assessment was ordered in November by Transport Minister Tavish Scott after a Feta survey revealed the corrosion on bridge cables.

Mr Scott also ordered a full engineering technical study into the condition of the bridge.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We have received the report from Flint and Neill who are cable suspension experts - a highly qualified British company."

He said ministers would consider the report and make a decision on it this month or early next month.

Constructing a new crossing could cost more than 700m.

A Feta spokeswoman said there was no one available to comment.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said no decision had yet been made.


SEE ALSO:
'Build new Forth bridge' campaign
16 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Bridge board backs 4 toll plan
25 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Forth Road Bridge closure warning
17 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Capacity concern over road bridge
02 Sep 05 |  Scotland
New Forth crossing given go-ahead
15 Jun 05 |  Scotland


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