Queensferry Crossing fury
Matheson ‘too slow’ to install ice sensors at troubled bridge
Queensferry Crossing: hit by icy weather
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has been accused of being too slow to install ice sensors that may have averted this week’s closure of the Queensferry Crossing.
The bridge reopened at 10:45am on Wednesday after businesses and commuters faced another morning of diversions and long delays and the Scottish Tories said Mr Matheson had dismissed the risk of ice forming as “extremely rare”.
The Tories said they had pressed the minister a number of times on the absence of sensors after three vehicles had their windscreens smashed by falling ice last March. This week a further eight motorists reported similar damage.
When asked in November why the sensors had not been installed, Mr Matheson responded: “Incidents like the one on the Queensferry Crossing in March 2019 are extremely rare. Meanwhile, our contractors have developed processes to ensure continued driver safety in the intervening period.”
In early December, in response to another question from the Tory benches, the minister said: “Traffic management will be implemented to facilitate ice clearance, and road users will be alerted in advance to minimise disruption.”
However, the crossing had to be closed on Monday night as Storm Ciara swept across the country. There were assurances that it could withstand high winds, but no such guarantees were given for ice clinging to the cables.
Businesses and commuters expressed fury that sufficient safeguards were not built into the £1 billion structure which opened in 2017.
Mr Matheson said that Transport Scotland evaluated quotations for ice sensoring equipment in early January and equipment “will be installed as soon as possible thereafter.”
Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs said: “We’ve been putting pressure on the SNP government for several months over ice sensors, and these admissions expose just how badly it has dragged its feet.
“It’s clear the transport minister dismissed the ice incidents of March last year as, in his words, extremely rare, and not worth addressing with any urgency.
“That complacency has now brought havoc for commuters and businesses on both sides of the Forth, and is yet more proof of another devolved area which the nationalists are driving into the ground.
“The SNP planned, commissioned and constructed this crossing – now that these problems have been uncovered, they must take full responsibility.”
The Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver, Canada, suffers from a similar problem and uses chains sliding down the cables to remove ice.
However, bridge engineer Amey said this might not work for the Queensferry Crossing.