Storm Ciara hits bridge
Queensferry Crossing closed as falling ice batters motorists
Commuters face major disruption again tomorrow after Storm Ciara forced the closure of the Queensferry Crossing.
The £1.4 billion bridge, which was supposed to be able to withstand all weather conditions, will remain shut while further tests are carried out.
Transport officials blamed “unique conditions”, with ice forming on the cables and falling on to the carriageway. Eight drivers reported their vehicles being damaged in Monday’s gales and freezing rain.
Closure of the bridge linking North and South Queensferry will mean a 34-mile diversion for those travelling by car between Fife and Edinburgh. Drivers will be diverted via the A985 to the Kincardine Bridge and the M9.
The bridge’s southbound lanes were closed to all traffic at 5:35pm on Monday. The northbound carriageway was shut at about 8:25pm.
Mark Arndt, account director for operating company Amey, said: “We appreciate this closure will create disruption for drivers. However, we are asking drivers to use an alternative mode or route for their safety due to the continued weather conditions. We will assess conditions and open the bridge at the earliest opportunity once it is safe to do so.”
Lib-Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said he had been told by the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson that if the weather worsens and the crossing is closed for longer then officials will possibly open the Forth Road Bridge (FRB), even though it is undergoing repairs.
However, Mr Matheson later ruled out that option. After meeting engineers at the bridge, he said: “The Forth Road Bridge remains open as a public transport corridor into the city from Fife. The decision has been taken to not reopen the FRB to general traffic given it is currently undergoing significant renovation work on the main expansion joints and has a contraflow in operation.
“Opening the FRB up to general traffic is likely to result in increased congestion for all vehicles and leave the crossing vulnerable to lengthy delays as a result of any accidents or breakdowns. This would have a significant negative impact on journey times for public transport over the Forth.”
He said the Queensferry Crossing will remain shut until tomorrow (Wednesday 12 February) and that further updates will be provided when available.
It was claimed that measures taken to protect motorists, such as the 3.5m-high wind shields, would mean the 1.7-mile structure would never have to close.
Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Jamie Greene said the issue of ice forming on the structure and falling onto vehicles was identified as an issue last winter, but has not been addressed.
“This is beyond political incompetence – it’s now borderline negligence and the general public are sick and tired of it,” he said.
Local Tory MSP Murdo Fraser added: “This is another major SNP failing when it comes to devolved responsibilities.
“The SNP commissioned, planned and built this bridge – now it must be fully accountable that things are going wrong.”
The M74 northbound carriageway was closed between junctions seven and eight, near Larkhall, after a crash involving two cars and a lorry, which left one woman seriously injured.
The Dornoch bridge has been closed to high-sided vehicles with warnings in place on other bridges.
Up to 20cm (8in) of snow is likely to fall with conditions remaining wintry and unsettled all week, according to the Met Office.