Queensferry Crossing: Closed until Wednesday
Commuters face more long delays as Queensferry Crossing will remain closed until Wednesday.
And Scotland’s transport chief has ruled out opening the Forth Road Bridge to cars while it is out of operation.
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, said it would only lead to congestion and lengthy delays in the event of an accident or breakdown.
He said the £1.35b bridge would re-open “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The crossing’s southbound carriageways closed on Monday night after falling ice and snow from the bridge’s towers struck several vehicles.
That was then extended to the north side, closing the main artery completely, sparking massive tailbacks in and out of Fife.
Motorists faced a two and half hour crawl to reach the Kincardine Bridge before continuing their journeys, while Falkirk was said to be gridlocked.
Attending a briefing with engineers at the bridge site and officials at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry, Mr Matheson said: “I appreciate the frustration this closure may cause and I very much appreciate the public’s patience and co-operation at this time.”
He said engineers have been closely monitoring and studying the “unique weather conditions causing this issue” and added: “We are developing our understanding of these conditions, which involve a certain consistency of snow and/or sleet, wind speed and direction, interacting fluctuating low temperatures.
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“This is leading to an ice formation on the bridge’s towers and cables at low temperature which has subsequently fallen from the bridge when thawed.”
The Minister said they were “doing all we can” to mitigate the impacts of the closure.
He continued: “A diversion route is in place via the Kincardine Bridge and I would encourage those travelling from further away more strategic destinations – Perth or Dundee to Glasgow for example – to consider an alternative route avoiding the main diversion where possible.
“We have strengthened the public transport offering across the Forth between the Lothians and Fife.
Additional buses are in operation, including additional bus services from rail stations which are experiencing higher than normal demand.”
The Forth Road bridge continues to operate for buses and taxis only and will not be used to ease the massive tailbacks out of the Kingdom.
Mr Matheson explained: “The decision has been taken to not reopen the Forth Road Bridge to general traffic given it is currently undergoing significant renovation work on the main expansion joints and has a contraflow in operation.
“Opening it 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 added: “Looking ahead we will implement constant monitoring of the Queensferry Crossing, when similar weather conditions are expected. With a particular focus on the areas we now know as vulnerable to this ice accumulation. We are taking steps to improve our traffic management response to any incidents so that ice can be cleared and any risk minimised.
“Given the weather forecast for similar cold conditions, we expect this will be during the course of Wednesday and we will provide further updates as soon as they become available. Safety of the travelling public is paramount and we will reopen the bridge as soon as it is safe to do so.”