The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity has visited the Queensferry Crossing to be given an update on the efforts to reopen the bridge.
Michael Matheson spoke with engineers at the bridge site and officials at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry.
The Queensferry Crossing was closed last night after reports of falling ice on the carriageways. The bridge will remain shut until tomorrow (Wednesday February 12), further updates will be provided when available.
Mr Matheson said:
“Engineers have been closely monitoring and studying the unique weather conditions causing this issue with a build-up of snow and ice on the Queensferry Crossing.
“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. 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.
“We are doing all we can to mitigate the impacts of this closure. 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 continue to work closely with public transport providers to provide alternative transport and additional capacity. Working in partnership 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 (FRB) 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.
“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 to continue, we expect the bridge to reopen during the course of Wednesday (February 12) 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.
“I appreciate the frustration this closure may cause and I very much appreciate the public’s patience and co-operation at this time.”