The new Queensferry Crossing has “more traffic than it can cope with,” according to the head of maintenance at Scotland’s national transport body.

Scott Lees told councillors in Fife the flagship infrastructure project clearly had ‘a number of issues’ around peak traffic time.

Bridge operators stressed the crossing was “not at capacity yet,” though admitted there had been an “acceleration” in the number of vehicles using the bridge.

READ MORE: Increase in Queensferry Crossing traffic accused of boosting congestion

The £1.3 billion replacement for the Forth Road Bridge was opened to vehicles in 2017, but has been hit by a series of issues around snagging and congestion.

Transport chiefs have also come under fire for hampering efforts to reduce congestion and cut climate emissions after a rise in traffic on the bridge after figures revealed more than one million extra journeys had been made on the crossing in the 12 months to October 2019.

However, speaking at a South and West Fife area committee meeting on Wednesday, Mr Lees acknowledged the bridge was “built as a replacement and not to increase provision” across the Forth.

He added the best way to cope with the traffic was to encourage more people to use public transport.

Mr Lees said: “It is clear that at peak times, there is more traffic than the bridge can cope with.”

“There is this view that the new bridge was built and there should be no congestion. But it is important to remember that the Queensferry crossing was built as a replacement, it doesn’t increase the provision across the Forth.”

John Russell, bridge operator for Amey, blamed some of the traffic congestion on driver behaviours, adding the current upsurge in vehicles using the crossing was “nothing out of the ordinary”.

He said: “The rat running – drivers going off and on slip roads to avoid queues – actually adds to the problems." 

READ MORE: Queensferry Crossing celebrated on new £20 banknote

"Even if you skip that line, you’re not even beating the traffic, as you still have to rejoin. It’s completely psychological. If drivers would just stay on the main line, it would move much smoother.”

He added: “We do around 24 million journeys a year, 80,000 a day across the bridge. It was built to cope with around 90,000, so we’re not at capacity yet. The bridge was built with a ten year plan in mind.”

“However, the Forth Road Bridge was handling about 70,000 a day, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”