Scotland’s transport secretary says the Queensferry Crossing is expected to reopen on Wednesday afternoon.
However MSP Michael Matheson said the closure of the bridge connecting Fife and Edinburgh will depend entirely on the weather – and could endure even longer than this.
The Queensferry Crossing was shut in both directions due to falling ice on Monday evening after eight cars were left damaged. It came as much of Scotland was hit by freezing weather and heavy snow.
Operator Amey says the bridge will be closed until further notice as a safety precaution due to ice falling from the cables.
Mr Matheson said: “As it stands at the moment the advice from the Met Office is that they expect the weather to be broadly the same as yesterday (Monday) and that will continue until around lunchtime tomorrow.
“It is a forecast and that could change that’s why we are continuing to monitor the bridge.”
He also confirmed that the Forth Road Bridge could be reopened to all traffic if similar ice problems occur in the future. The old crossing is currently closed for maintenance.
Mr Matheson said: “Yes, it could (open in the future). Once the refurbishment works are completed on the Forth Bridge, it would be possible for it to be used as a diversion route.
“That’s something that I am keen take away. Given that the work has been taken forward during the winter months, it may be better for us to make sure there is no work being done on the Forth Road Bridge during the winter months so that it could be used as a diversion should that be necessary in the future.
“It is certainly something I am open to. I have already discussed with officials whether we can do something on that in the future if it was necessary.”
Drivers are being forced to use a 26-mile diversion via the A985 on to the Kincardine Bridge and then southbound onto the M9.
Mr Matheson added: “What’s been happening over the course of this winter during the adverse period of weather is that there is enhanced monitoring of the bridge to identify where snow and ice is building up and whether it is a risk to those making use of the bridge.
“Ice sensors are due to go in the next couple of months. There has been a lot of technical work gone into the type of ice sensors and locations etc and how that would utilised on the bridge to maximise the benefits that can come from that.
“What they will have to do as well is identify whether there are other mitigating measures to be put in place to minimise the risk of this happening again in the future.
“But experience from other parts of the world would say that can be challenging and any measure that you put in place has to be bespoke to the circumstances and the environment in which that bridge is operating.”
Amey account director Mark Arndt said: “The decision was taken to close the Queensferry Crossing due to the severe weather conditions and risk of falling ice and snow.
“We are aware of eight vehicles that suffered damage due to falling ice and snow, however there have been no injuries reported.
“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. We thank drivers for their patience.”
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