Queensferry Crossing closure: Politicians seek answers

One of Fife’s political leaders has spoken of the “huge disruption” to the Kingdom following the total closure of the Queensferry Crossing.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 11:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 11:45 am

Councillor David Ross, co-leader of Fife Council, has written to the Scottish Govenrment asking for an update on the action taken to get the bridge open – and he wants to know why the Forth Road Bridge wasn’t used as an alternative.

The crossing closed its southbound carriage when snow and ice fell on to vehicles.

Eight cars were hit by sludge falling from the top of to towers.

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Pic: Michael Gillen

When debris also fell on to the northbound carriage,. the entire crossing was closed – and it remains inaccessible while engineers carry out visual checks.

There have been reports of massive tailbacks to the Kincardine Bridge all morning.

Cllr Ross said: “This closure, even for a day or two, causes considerable difficulties for residents and businesses in Fife.

“I understand the closure is because of the danger of falling ice and snow from the bridge. Given that it’s not unusual for Scotland to experience periods of freezing and snowy weather, I want to know if this wasn’t taken into consideration in the design of the bridge.

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“I’ve also asked for an explanation as to why it’s not possible to use the old Forth Road Bridge as a temporary alternative route. I’m told there are roadworks on the FRB but will it ever be an alternative if problems occur on the Queensferry Crossing in the future?”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Lib Dem MSP for Mid Fife attended a briefing with Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity this moirning for the latest updates.

He said the Forth bridge couldn’t be used on this occasion as the southbound lane has been dug up – and it would take until evening to set up the traffic management system needed to divert cars to the north side.

He said: “In terms of ice clearing, the ice from the towers can becleared manually via rope access but there is no bespoke solution to clear theice from the cables. They need to wait for it to thaw.

The weather forecast suggests that all ice should be clear in time for the crossing to open some time tomorrow, but if the temperature drops that could change.”

Alexander Stewart, Tory MSP, criticised lack of a solution.

he said: “With winter approaching only last year, it was clear that Transport Scotland still hadn’t resolved the problem of ice accumulation high up in the bridge.

“We already know that engineers had planned to use specialist monitoring equipment to ‘anticipate’ any build-up of ice that could lead to lane closures and other traffic control measures being used and it shows that this concern has again born fruit last night, which meant further long delays and misery for commuters.

“But that is only “anticipating” it but not actually getting to the rood of the problem, and it beggars belief why the SNP Scottish Government has continued to fail in addressing this issue.”

Murdo Fraser MSP also called for a long-term solution to be found.

He added: “The closure of the Queensferry Crossing not only caused severe disruption to constituents of mine from Fife trying to get to work in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and those going in the opposite direction, but also added substantial costs to businesses throughout the east of Scotland making and awaiting deliveries, with drivers having to make substantial detours.

“It is not as if the problem with ice building up on the cables came as any surprise. I was told in October that ice sensors would be installed on the bridge to alert engineers to the hazard of ice building up on the cables, but it’s not clear whether this work has actually been done.

“At least that way drivers could be warned of the risks, because as it stands a serious accident could well have resulted.”