Today the Scottish Government made a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the closure of the Forth Road Bridge for the next three weeks.
It was the first opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to ask the Scottish Government about the closure of the bridge and it is clear from the range of questions on maintenance, funding, and governance that we must have a parliamentary inquiry.
As someone that uses both the road and rail bridge to get from Fife to Parliament I fully understand the frustrations of commuters as they struggle to get to and from work.
I understand that the closure is especially having an impact on shift workers who many not be able to rely on public transport due to the hours that they work.
It is right that we do not take risks with the safety of the public and as such the Government were correct to shut the bridge due to structural faults.
I appreciate that Scotrail has laid on extra carriages for their peak time services but people are still being left at stations, or forced onto cramped conditions. Those who are taking the busses or car are also facing long delays on diversion routes.
It is important that the work to repair the bridge is carried out as quickly as possible to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum.
That is why I took the opportunity during the statement to ask for assurances from the Scottish Government that their timescale of having the bridge open by the new year will be met.
You can read a transcript of my question below:
Claire Baker MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife): It is clear from the questions in the chamber today that we would benefit from a parliamentary enquiry on this issue.
The Minister has said it is anticipated that the bridge is to be open for people returning to work in the New Year. How confident is he in the timescale and which factors might lead to a delay. It is obviously of great concern to commuters in Fife, particularly shift workers that we see the bridge open as soon as possible.
Minister for Transport: The last briefing I had – which was just before I left the national traffic control centre where the multi-agency response is being coordinated to come to parliament – was the work is on track as per the timetable that has been published.
Factors that may change that, of course, is the fact that the works are weather dependent because we won’t have people working in unsafe conditions but we are working around the clock to get the bridge open as quickly as possible.