The bridge, the bridge …

Here’s a strange thing about the bridge that’ll get me pelters from all sides. [Note for non-Scottish readers: the Queensferry Crossing is a new road bridge across the Firth of Forth]

I welcome the work that’s being done on it and will have to be done on it probably over the next year – not the five days that transport Humza Yousaf claimed erroneously in his tweet (above).

It was a massive engineering project and a spectacular design to add to its two equally impressive neighbours. There may have been political pressure to get it opened as soon as possible and like many I regret that its design, construction and the materials it was built of were almost entirely sourced abroad. I don’t even like the fact that as soon as it’s built it has to be lit up in the colours of the saltire to prove its oor bridge built by oor SNP. And there may yet be unpalatable facts to emerge about some of the issues around the present and future lane restrictions (even temporary closures?).

But it is a darned great complex civil engineering project and there are bound to be teething troubles that need to be sorted out.

No, the issue that well and truly gets my goat is the SNP’s obfuscation on the subject, exemplified by Mr Yousaf’s tweet. It’s a classic of its kind.

  • It uses the phrase ‘planned milestone’ to hide the fact that what has happened just now was not planned (if it had been it would have been announced well in advance).
  • It tries to convert what is clearly a problem into a positive – the raising of the speed limit on the bridge (a limit it was supposed to have been designed to in the first place).
  • It mentions only the five days closure but not any longer term works (see the ‘next year’ link above).
  • And of course it gets ‘weather permitting’ in as an excuse, just in case.

The Transport Scotland tweet he appends is not much better, either in itself or in the information on their web site it links to. But I imagine they were under some political pressure to present this as a positive improvement, not a problem.

There is a fundamental dishonesty in this that the SNP get themselves trapped into time and again. Things aren’t just done, they have to be shown as triumphs for the party and the nation, achieved in spite of Westminster and something that none of the unionist parties would have bothered with (in the case of the bridge a nationalist told me precisely that online). The problem is that triumphs don’t always emerge from political decisions and then an excuse has to found, blame assigned (you can guess where) or, in this case, an obfuscation perpetrated.

The minister concerned could be seen as having a track record in this sort of thing. Readers with a long memory may recall his missing diaries from a Middle East trip when he held the egregious ‘external affairs’ portfolio. And of course he had a senior moment when he forgot to ensure that he was insured to drive someone’s car. You’ll observe incidentally that the errant diaries were only found/released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. That itself is all of a pattern, with a group of journalists recently expressing concern about how the Scottish government handle FOI requests. Obfuscation yet again.

How much better it would be if our government felt they could be honest about the risk inherent in large projects and spell those out in advance. Who knows, they might even save themselves some turmoil and blunt some of the criticism that comes their way. But after eleven years in government, it’s clearly too late to teach the old nationalist dog new tricks.

A brooding Queensferry Crossing on its opening weekend

 

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8 Responses to The bridge, the bridge …

  1. Annoyed of Fife says:

    The thing I don’t get is last night Mr Yousaf said on BBC he has hundreds of miles of Trunk Roads to look after he can’t be aware of everything . This is a HUGE BRIDGE which let’s be blunt they have been cooing over for months . They knew …. they put political pressure on the Bridge Builders to get it open (granted nearly a year late) and now we are seeing the back wash from that . This bridge was probably never going to be finished properly until September 2019 . As you stated it was built for 70mph speeds. Having to do remedial work to get to that is just bonkers!!! It’s a fantastic piece of engineering but for anybody like myself who has to use the bridges to get to work it’s now a bloody curse and you can’t use the Trains as they next to useless and twice as expensive. It’s a total mess. We all feel like mushrooms thanks to Mr Yousaf and Co.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear annoyed of Fife you should boycott it mate that way when they have to close carriageways for maintenance snagging et cetera you won’t be affected.

      Like

      • Roger White says:

        You’re on dangerous territory there since boycotts seem to be the specialism of some nationalists. I’ve lost count of the number of proposed boycotts. I don’t know where some of these people get their messages, enjoy a tea cake or take holidays.

        Like

    • Sam Duncan says:

      “he has hundreds of miles of Trunk Roads to look after he can’t be aware of everything”

      Stop the presses! Nationalist makes argument against nationalism!

      You wanted all that responsibility, Yousaf (although I’m quite sure you never thought of it in those terms, dreaming only of the power and accolades of your supporters… not to mention the salary). Deal with it, or surrender it to someone who can.

      Like

  2. Ewan says:

    What nonsense.

    The SNP’s colours are yellow and black. If the bridge was to be lit up in yellow, then you might have a point. The Saltire is the flag of Scotland, not the flag of the SNP. I honestly can’t see how anyone could object to a Scottish bridge being illuminated with the colours of the Scottish flag, apart from anyone who believes there should be no nations and no flags.

    Your link showing that the roadworks will take 10 months not five days actually does nothing of the sort. The relevance of next September is that that is when responsibility for paying for roadworks will no longer fall upon the contractors. It’s not 10 months of roadworks as you (and the Record’s headline) imply.

    It has been stated that the problem with the tarmac is that it wasn’t laid within the design tolerances. That’s the fault of the contractor, not Humza Yousaf. Do you think the minister should have been out on the bridge every day of its construction, checking that it was being built properly? Well of course not, that’s the job of the professionals who actually built the bridge.

    You suggest that the SNP have been dishonest about the risks inherent in large construction projects such as this. Perhaps you should take a look at the records of the all party committee that examined this in great detail, taking evidence from many of the professionals planning and building the bridge.

    Finally, there was plenty of opposition to the bridge being built in the first place from many of the SNP‘s opponents. For years it was referred to as “Salmond’s vanity project”.

    Apart from that though, super article.

    Like

    • Roger White says:

      Thanks for your comments. Perhaps it wasn’t obvious to you but my point was not the bridge itself – read what I say about it – but SNP government obfuscation (‘the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible’) about what’s going on. A careful reading of my post should make that clear.

      Like

      • Ewan says:

        It was obvious the overall point you were making, I was only commenting on the things you said which I thought were factually wrong or just daft. It would have been a much better article if you had omitted them.

        Like

  3. (Sorry if this is a duplicate: usually one sees the comment ‘in moderation’ but I think this one disappeared. Between bad coding, censorship and fevered egos, the internet becomes less and less useful every day.)

    Straight Outta Orwell:
    ‘Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough … came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty. [p.30; ch.2] …
    ‘For the moment he had shut his ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. [p.67; ch.5]’ (Nineteen Eighty-Four; bold added)

    Worth observing that the Forth Bridge was built without a single farthing of public money. Not only a testament to the capitalist free market, it is also a great example of what Britons can achieve by uniting their talents (initiated by our North British Railway, who formed the Forth Bridge Railway Company to build it—this being composed of the North British Railway, along with England’s Midland Railway, North Eastern Railway and Great Northern Railway; designed by Yorkshireman John Fowler and Somersetian Benjamin Baker; construction was headed by Englishmen Sir Thomas Tancred and Joseph Philips, Irishman Travers Falkiner and the Scottish Sir William Arrol, the actual construction work being done by mainly Scots and Irish).

    Incidentally, Catalonia seems to have disappeared from the international news. El País’s latest headline is ‘Spanish court refuses to release two prominent Catalan ex-officials’ (I dream of the headline, ‘British court refuses to release two prominent SNP ex-officials’). A firm hand works, as is being demonstrated in Spain. Who is enjoying more success? Puidgemont—currently busy begging a Belgian judge not to extradite him to Spain; or Sturgeon—busy grandstanding courtesy of our devolved assembly? Time to ‘Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood’ and follow the Iron Duke’s advice: ‘Pour la canaille, Faut la mitraille.

    (Btw, it’s an awful design of bridge, compared to the original Forth. To paraphrase @WrathOfGnon: ‘Oncewebuiltbeautifulbridges.’)

    Like

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