Queensferry Crossing project “effectively managed” but clarity needed on benefits, report finds

TRANSPORT Scotland’s management of the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) project was effectively managed but a clearer plan is needed to measure its wider benefits, a report from Audit Scotland has found.

Auditor General Caroline Gardner praised Transport Scotland’s “budgeting, governance, quality assurance and risk management” on the £1.3 billion infrastructure project, which was delivered £110 million less than expected.

The report acknowledges the project’s “competitive tendering”, which helped deliver it under budget. The skills and experience of the delivery team were also highlighted as key factor in its success, with the report praising the team’s “strong, consistent leadership” and communication with contractors and stakeholders.

Ms Gardner said, “There is much the public sector can learn from the way Transport Scotland managed the project and it’s important that good practice is shared more widely.

“The management of the project delivered value for money and achieved its overall aim of maintaining a reliable road link between Fife and the Lothians.

“Transport Scotland now needs to produce a clearer plan about how it will measure the success of the project’s wider benefits, including the contribution to economic growth and improved transport links.”

Transport Scotland has welcomed the report.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity Michael Matheson said, “In particular the report highlights the effective management of the project with clear project scope and a budget which included all relevant costs. As well as the sound governance, wide-ranging risk management and quality assurance measures that were put in place.”

He continued, “The report provides welcome recognition of the project having delivered its objective of providing a more reliable road link between the Lothians and Fife. Since opening there have been 14 occasions on which the Forth Road Bridge would have closed to high-sided vehicles due to weather conditions. Meanwhile, hard shoulders are helping to mitigate against the impact of accidents and breakdowns and the most recent data is showing a steady overall improvement in journey times.”

Mr Matheson said that while it was too early to complete a wide-ranging assessment evaluating the project’s outcomes, Transport Scotland accepts the recommendations made in the report and aims to carry out a full post-project report in late 2018.

This report will detail performance relating to journey times and traffic flow, as well as an assessment of the impact of improved network connections and junctions, and the project’s contribution to economic growth, he said.

Mr Matheson added, “As recommended in the report, the successful delivery of the FRC project has provided a number of valuable lessons learned that we utilise in our future work and we will seek opportunities to share these lessons more broadly within the Scottish Government and the broader public sector.”