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Morgan Est/Vincijv heads for the Forth

CONTRACTS - SCOTLAND

A JOINT venture between Morgan Est and Vinci is set to win a £100 million deal to build a new crossing over the Forth Estuary in Scotland.

The team is preferred bidder on the job ahead of rivals Balfour Beatty and another joint venture featuring Mowlem and Bilf inger Berger.

The award from Transport Scotland, part of the Scottish Executive, will come as welcome news for transport campaigners, who have voiced concerns about corroded cables on the existing Forth Road Bridge several miles downstream.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, who recently visited the area to campaign in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, called for a new £500 million road and footbridge to replace the Forth Bridge.

Proposals for the Kincardine Bridge, which will be called the Upper Forth Crossing, received the go-ahead in June last year.

The Scottish Executive has been working up detailed design works for the scheme.

The 1.2 km bridge will link Kincardine on the north bank to the M876 on the south, close to an existing road bridge.

The original crossing opened in 1936 and, until the Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964, was the most accessible road link across the Forth Estuary.

The current bridge acts as a diversionary route during bad weather for vehicles restricted from using the Forth Road Bridge.

The Upper Forth Crossing will consist of 29 spans, the highest reaching 70 m, with three traffic lanes and a cycle lane.

The Scottish Executive is developing the bridge as part of a wider project to ease congestion around Kincardine.

Last year RJ McLeod completed a new road called the Eastern Link to take traffic away from the busy A985 road to the north of Kincardine Work is due to start on the crossing in the summer, with completion planned for 2008.