The main contract to build the bridge and connecting roads is expected to be awarded in April 2011 at a predicted cost of up to US$1.87 billion.
On 15 December the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a replacement for the Forth Road Bridge. Due to the deterioration of the main suspension cables and other ongoing maintenance issues, the existing Forth Road Bridge cannot continue as the main crossing for cross-Forth traffic and may have to close to some vehicles by 2017, although under the current proposals it would be retained as a dedicated public transport corridor for buses, cycles and taxis.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The FRC project is absolutely vital for the future growth of Scotland’s economy and will also provide an immediate boost to the construction industry and associated sub contractors. I am delighted it received strong cross-party endorsement.
“This is a huge step for a huge infrastructure project, the biggest that Scotland has seen for a generation. In approving the Forth Crossing Bill the Scottish Parliament has helped safeguard a strategically vital link in the transport network that will protect thousands of jobs and secure billions of pounds worth of revenue.
“The project has gone through planning, design development, consultation and parliamentary scrutiny in under four years and is on course to complete procurement and begin construction in 2011. This is an exceptional achievement and establishes a strong foundation for delivering the FRC scheme on schedule and within budget in 2016."