Matheson on thin ice over Queensferry closure

11/02/2020
Chris Ames

The Queensferry Crossing is closed following reports of ice falling on vehicles despite a ministerial assurance just three months ago that such incidents are ‘very rare’ and that monitoring equipment would be fitted.

It has been reported that a number of vehicles were damaged by falling ice on Monday, leading to its closure.

Transport Scotland said the £1.3bn road bridge, which opened in 2017, will remain shut until at least Wednesday (February 12). On Wednesday morning it was still closed.

Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity visited the site ‘to be given an update on the efforts to reopen the bridge’ and spoke with engineers at the site and officials at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry.

In October, in response to a written parliamentary question regarding an earlier incident, Mr Matheson stated: ‘The conditions that can lead to a build-up of ice of this kind are very rare in the Forth estuary.’

He added that ‘processes have been developed to ensure that any ice formation is monitored and managed to minimise the impact on traffic over the structure’.

He wrote: ‘Sensors which detect ice accumulation will be fitted to the bridge and incorporated in the structural health monitoring system.’

Transport Scotland said it would make a statement on Tuesday afternoon on the issue of monitoring equipment but had not done so at the time of publication. However, it appears that it has not yet been installed.

On Tuesday, Mr Matheson said: ‘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.’

Despite asserting in October that a build-up of ice in March 2019 was ‘a result of a very specific set of weather conditions', Mr Matheson sought to portray the recurrence of the problem as ‘unique’.

He 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.’

Ironically, Mr Matheson pointed out that the Forth Road Bridge (FRB), for which the Queensferry Crossing was a replacement, remains open as a public transport corridor between Edinburgh and Fife.

He said: ‘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 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.’

Cold Comfort Scotland 2020, the seventh Annual Winter Maintenance Conference and Exhibition, takes place at the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel, Falkirk on Thursday 23 April.

Highways jobs

Street Cleansing Operative Driver (Large Goods Vehicles)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£22,377 to £23,607
We are looking to recruit staff for both our day service and evening service. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Environmental Health Practitioner (Pollution)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£39,774.00 - £42,684.00
This is an excellent opportunity for individual who is looking to gain management experience.  Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Policy Planner

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 – £45,704 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recruiter: Mole Valley District Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recruiter: Rossendale Borough Council

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recruiter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recruiter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recruiter: Newport City Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Inside:

  • Exclusive: Self-assessment results
  • Keeping up momentum on major roads
  • The Lifelines Resilience approach
View the latest issue

Latest Video