Public sector 'can learn from' well-managed Queensferry Crossing project

Written by Jenni Davidson on 2 August 2018 in News

Audit Scotland has praised Transport Scotland’s “effective” management of the new Forth bridge

Queensferry Crossing - Image credit: greenzowie/Flickr

The public sector can learn from Transport Scotland’s management of the Queensferry Crossing, Audit Scotland has said in its evaluation of the project to deliver the new bridge.

The public sector watchdog said that the Queensferry Crossing project was managed effectively and had delivered value for money, with the final cost of the project coming in at £1.34bn – at least £110m less than the £1.45-£1.6bn cost estimated at the start of construction.

The auditor said generic project management lessons, such as governance, working relationships, financial management, quality assurance, communication and engagement, and openness and transparency, could be applied to other types of projects in the public sector.

It praised Transport Scotland’s management, which included “sound governance”, “wide-ranging risk management”, “clear project scope”, a budget that “included all relevant costs” and “extensive and timely consultation”.

A key to the success was a delivery team with the right mix of skills and experience, it added.

The Scottish Government had also made a “well-evidenced decision” to build a replacement crossing and had shown the advantages over the choice of a cable-stayed bridge over other options, according to the auditor.

However, the report notes that while the aim of creating a reliable road link between the Lothians and Fife has been achieved, it is too early to evaluate some of the intended benefits of the new crossing such as better public transport and quicker journey times.

The auditor warns that Transport Scotland needs to be clearer about how it will measure progress in achieving the benefits and that it must produce a plan for improving public transport across the Forth.

Auditor General for Scotland Caroline Gardner said: "There is much the public sector can learn from the way Transport Scotland managed the project and it's important that the 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 its contribution to economic growth and improved public transport links."

The SNP welcomed the reporting, saying it “trashes criticism” about the bridge, which Labour MSP James Kelly had called a “vanity project”.

Gordon MacDonald MSP said: “Audit Scotland's praise for the SNP government’s excellent stewardship of the Queensferry Crossing project is extremely welcome.

“The bridge is an impressive feat of engineering, constructed to the highest industry standards, and the benefits have been delivered to road users as quickly as possible, providing a much more resilient transport link for commuters and the Scottish economy, especially in Fife and the Lothians. 

“And to top it all off, the project has delivered £245 million worth of savings for the Scottish budget.

“That success has left the Scottish Labour and Lib Dem benches looking red-faced and foolish, following their relentless and pointless negativity about the bridge.”

However, the Greens criticised the focus on cars over public transport as a  measure of success.

John Finnie MSP, the Scottish Greens’ transport spokesperson, said: “Predictably, the FRC [Forth Road Crossing] project is delivering in areas relating to private car use.

“Before ministers applaud themselves for the report’s findings, they’d do well to remember that Audit Scotland states it’s ‘too soon’ to determine if public transport has been improved as a result of the bridge opening.

 “There’s still plenty of work to be done by Transport Scotland and ministers and Greens will continue to press the government to provide our country with a first-class public transport system and to keep their promise of encouraging more people to use public transport across the Forth.”



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