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‘A national humiliation’: Anger after ice forces closure of Queensferry Crossing for the third time in a year

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The closure of the Queensferry Crossing due to ice for the third time in a year has been branded “a national humiliation”.

Opposition MSPs said it beggared belief that standard Scottish weather had forced the key route to close yet again yesterday.

They have called on the Scottish Government to find an urgent solution.

Frustrated drivers heading to Edinburgh faced a near 40-mile diversion via Kincardine after officials shut the £1.3 billion bridge in both directions because of the risk of falling ice.

The move at 3am followed severe overnight conditions, including an amber weather alert for blizzards.

Bear Scotland said staff on patrol saw ice falling from the structure and closed the route for safety reasons.

It fully reopened at 10.10am.

The Forth Road Bridge can be used as a diversion outwith peak times but was not opened on this occasion.

“It seems we have a new bridge that can’t even cope with an average snowfall.”

Commuter Sara Henderson.

‘It’s a shambles’

Key worker Sara Henderson’s usual 30 minute commute to Edinburgh took six times longer than normal.

The NHS Lothian employee took two and a half hours just to get from Dalgety Bay to the Kincardine Bridge.

“It seems we have a new bridge that can’t even cope with an average snowfall,” she said.

“We also have the old Forth Road Bridge that has been operating since 1964 yet today is closed because, we are told, they need to conduct another trial.

“It’s a shambles.”

‘Absolutely beggars belief’

Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart said the Scottish Government must find a quick fix.

“It absolutely beggars belief that after all the talk over previous years, yet again our normal Scottish weather prompted this morning’s closure,” he said.

“Something needs to be done and fast.

“This entire debacle is a danger to motorists and has fast become a national humiliation.”

His Conservative colleague Murdo Fraser described the situation as a “shambles”.

“I have been contacted this morning by key workers who live in Fife,” he said.

“They are demanding immediate action from the SNP Government to address this continuing problem.”

Mr Fraser previously called for a long-term solution such as heated wires on the bridge cables or what is known as a cable collar system, similar to that used on the Alex Fraser Bridge in Greater Vancouver, Canada.

The system uses metal chains which slide down each cable to clear snow and prevent dangerous conditions.

Mr Fraser said no thought had been given to ice build-up on the Queensferry Crossing.

He added: “This has become a joke, with frustrated and angry motorists – many from Fife – now facing lengthy diversions, when it is something that should have been looked at before it opened.”

‘A major error’

Labour MSP Alex Rowley said Scottish ministers should be embarrassed by the latest closure.

“They have commissioned a £1.3 billion bridge that can’t operate at certain times of the year in Scotland because of our climate,” he said.

“That’s a major error.

“Up to now I’ve tried to focus on finding a solution but ministers must take some responsibility for this.”

The bridge closed for the first time last February when chunks of ice fell from cables and crashed onto vehicles.

Ice sensors were fitted in July but the crossing closed again in December as Scotland was hit by extreme weather.

Possible solutions

The Scottish Government is studying a number of options for preventing or mitigating ice build-up.

Some of these will be trialled but cost will be a factor.

A Transport Scotland spokesman added: “Safety of road users is paramount and our operating company took the decision to close the Queensferry Crossing due to the risk of falling ice on safety grounds.

“During any emergency closure of the Queensferry Crossing a diversion route will be implemented using the Forth Road Bridge or Kincardine Bridge as appropriate, dependent on the duration of the closure required.

“On this occasion, due to the forecast short-term closure, traffic was diverted via Kincardine Bridge in accordance with established procedures.

“Research and development work is under way to explore a method or technology to mitigate the problem of ice build-up on the bridge in the longer term.”

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