First motorists drive over the £1.35bn Queensferry Crossing

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The Queensferry Crossing's opening was met with a loud welcome as motorists drove over it for the first time on Wednesday.

Shortly before 2am, northbound traffic was diverted from the Forth Road Bridge to the new £1.35 billion structure.

A long procession followed police vehicles, with many of those behind the wheel honking their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over it.

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Keith Brown was among the first to cross it.

He said: "It's fantastic. You immediately notice coming over the new bridge - as traffic is now doing - the absence of the slap, slap, slap that you get on the existing bridge.

"It's a very smooth passage right across the Queensferry Crossing. Also, just the excitement of looking at this fantastic new structure from a new angle.

"I think it will be extremely well-received by the people in Scotland who are going to use this bridge."

The 1.7-mile crossing has a projected life of 120 years but could last longer as it has been "designed for maintenance" to ensure it runs smoothly for decades.

Linking the Lothians and Fife, the new crossing is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Traffic flows on both carriageways of the Queensferry Crossing
(Andrew Milligan/PA)

On Monday night a collection of vintage, modern and electric vehicles drove on the structure in a procession to mark the symbolic handover from contractors to the Scottish Government.

It was followed by a light show across the crossing to celebrate the completion of the biggest infrastructure project in Scotland in a generation.

A view of the new Queensferry Crossing, seen from South Queensferry
(Jane Barlow/PA)

In the early hours of Friday, the new bridge will be closed again to prepare for a public walk on the crossing and a royal visit from the Queen on Monday.

A total of 50,000 invited members of the public will have the chance to walk across it on Saturday and Sunday.

Motorists will be able to drive across it after it has reopened on Thursday, September 7.

Traffic as it makes its way along the northbound carriageway of the Queensferry Crossing
(Andrew Milligan/PA)

The crossing is essentially an extension of the M90 motorway across the Forth with a 70mph speed limit, although operators said an initial 40mph limit will be in place when the bridge first opens to take account of "driver distraction".

Mr Brown said: "That's when you get to the real advantages, in terms of reduced journey times, and also when you have that division of traffic between the two bridges, with public transport going on one bridge and all other traffic on the other bridge.

"It's just a stunning bridge to look at, more so in the daytime. Not only is this the best bridge in the world, but it sits with two other bridges. A different bridge from each of three different centuries in the same location. There's nowhere else in the world I can think of like that."

A shining achievement. Picture: @RobertTyreBute#QueensferryCrossingpic.twitter.com/4z7bQeeJRs

-- Queensferry Crossing (@NewForthBridge) August 29, 2017

Construction began in 2011, with numerous records and milestones marked along the way.

The need for a new bridge emerged in 2004 when inspections of the Forth Road Bridge's main cables found a loss of strength.