The Queensferry Crossing will open on Wednesday, kicking off a week of events to celebrate the completion of the new £1.35bn bridge over the river Forth.
The man behind the building project, Michael Martin, said the new crossing was “one of the world’s great bridges”.
The new 1.7 miles (2.7km) crossing will replace the Forth Road Bridge as the main road route between Edinburgh and Fife, carrying 24 million vehicles a year.
The existing road bridge, built in 1964 and dogged by maintenance problems, will continued to be used by cycles, pedestrians and eventually buses.
The iconic 19th Century Forth Bridge , which carries the railway over the river, lies just a mile away.
Opening the Queensferry Crossing
Wednesday 30 August
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Queensferry Crossing will fully open to traffic in both directions.
Police will put in place a rolling roadblock to stop traffic driving across the Forth Road Bridge and will redirect them across the Queensferry Crossing.
The Northbound carriageway will be opened first. The southbound carriageway will be opened about 45 minutes later.
The bridge will be fully open to traffic for the rest of the day and the following day.
Friday 1 September
Early in the morning, the Queensferry Crossing will close to all traffic.
Police will redirect all vehicles back across the Forth Road Bridge.
It will remain closed until the early hours of Wednesday morning
Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 September
About 50,000 members of the public, who were given tickets in 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.
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 further 10,000 local people and school children will be given the opportunity to walk the bridge.
Wednesday 6 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.
The current Forth Road Bridge has been beset by problems since corrosion was found in its steel cables more than a decade ago.
The decision to replace it was taken in 2007, with construction of the new crossing beginning in September 2011.
Two years ago, the Forth Road Bridge was forced to close completely for three weeks while engineers repaired a serious defect in the metalwork, again underlining the need for the new bridge.
The Queensferry Crossing, which will be the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, will take the vast bulk of the current load and unlike the existing bridge it is expected to remain open in all weathers.
Designers say 3.5m-high wind shields have been placed along each side of the bridge, which have been tested against the stormiest of conditions.
- The other Forth bridge – 50 years of the remarkable road crossing
Transport Scotland project director David Climie told BBC Scotland: “We expect the wind shields to almost entirely eliminate the need for closures during the frequent periods of high winds in the Forth estuary, apart from in exceptional circumstances.
“This will increase the resilience of what will be the main crossing over the Forth estuary in future.”
The deck of the new bridge will have two lanes in each direction as well as hard shoulders to ensure that breakdowns do not cause congestion.
Designers claim this will also allow buses to be moved from the Forth Road Bridge in high winds or other dangerous weather conditions.
As the new bridge will be a designated motorway, it means learner drivers and motorbikes under 50cc will not be allowed on it.
Mike Glover, the technical director and project manager of the crossing, told the BBC that travelling across the new bridge would be much smoother than the current one, because it only has two joints on the whole deck.
“That means the whole road surface is continuous, no bumps, no disruption, just silence,” he says.
“The existing road bridge is made up of sections which are 60ft long and therefore you have in excess of 100 individual joins, which causes the bumps as you go across it.
“Not only is it uncomfortable for motorists but actually it causes a lot of fatigue damage in the bridge itself.”
Queensferry Crossing – facts and figures
More than 15,000 people have been involved in the project since the inception of plans for a new bridge in 2007.
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 the 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
Cables can be replaced with more ease than on the Forth Road Bridge – it can be done as part of normal maintenance works without closing the bridge.
The foundations of the bridge are large caisson – circular steel structures – sunk into the mud of the estuary to bedrock level.
The south caisson is the height of the Statue of Liberty. It is 35m in diameter and when it was constructed it was 50m in height.
At the southern tower they poured 16,000 cubic metres of concrete over a period of 15 days continuously from barges on the river.
Walking across the bridge
Once it is fully operational there will be no pedestrian access to the bridge, instead people will be able to walk across the existing Forth Road Bridge.
However, an online ballot was held to select 50,000 people to walk across the new crossing on the weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September.
The “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity attracted applications from more than 226,000 people, mainly from Scotland.
About 5,180 people entered have postcodes from elsewhere in the UK and the remaining 437 are from the rest of the world, including the United States, India and one single entrant from Slovakia.
In addition to this, a further 10,000 people from local schools and community groups on both sides of the Forth will be able to walk on the bridge on Tuesday 5 September, the day after its official opening by the Queen.
Queen to open the bridge
The Queen will open the bridge on Monday 4 September, exactly 53 years after she opened the Forth Road Bridge.
It has also been announced that she will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, in his first official appearance alongside the Queen since retiring from solo engagements.
Other events on the day will include a welcome address by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and a blessing by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, will read a poem specially commissioned for the occasion and there will be live music performances.