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Queensferry Crossing reopens to traffic after closure due to falling ice and snow

© Andrew Milligan/PA WireThe Queensferry Crossing has been closed to vehicles
The Queensferry Crossing has been closed to vehicles

Queensferry Crossing operators have reopened the bridge, which had been closed to traffic since Monday.

The bridge re-opened at 10:45am, meaning that motorists no longer have to use a 35-mile diversion via the Kincardine Bridge.

Operators say that the information gathered during the closure in relation to the snow and ice problem will help them understand the issue if it arises again in future.

Congestion is expected for a while until the flow of traffic returns to normal.

The conditions on the bridge have been monitored by Amey since the closure to traffic earlier this week.

Working closely with weather forecasters and other partners, they say they’ve been gaining a more accurate understanding of the factors and processes that led to the build-up of snow and ice.

The accumulation of snow and ice fell down from the cables, causing danger to traffic below and forcing the bridge’s closure.

Operators will continue to monitor the bridge with more wintry weather forecast, but are confident that it is now safe for use.

Mark Arndt, Account Director for operating company Amey, said: “We thank drivers for their patience and understanding during this closure.

“Safety had to come first, however the data we have gathered has improved our understanding of the issue and will help us to improve predictions and refine operating procedures in future.”

The Scottish Government was criticised by the Scottish Conservatives for its alleged failure to address the issue.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said there have been approximately 30 occasions where the new bridge has remained open when its predecessor would have been partially or fully shut.

He added further investigation of the incident was needed.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Tuesday morning, Mr Matheson defended the lack of action to stop ice falling from the bridge, saying its designers were planning to install ice sensors on to the structure “in the coming months” but no contract had yet been awarded for the work to be done.

Motorists told of their fears after huge chunks of ice hit their vehicles while crossing the bridge on Monday.

Martin Aitchison, 51, said a piece of ice fell on his work van, damaging his windscreen.

The joiner was heading home to South Queensferry from a job in Fife at 4.35pm, and was underneath the north stanchion of the bridge.

He said: “There was a huge bang and the windscreen has blown.

“I drove on another 200 to 300 yards and stopped just behind an Amey truck. The guy who was there started pointing up at the bridge.”

After stopping, Mr Aitchison went to the Amey office at the Forth Bridge and saw another two vehicles on trucks and another motorist driving behind.

He said: “There were four drivers in there in the space of about 30 minutes.

“To be fair, the Amey guys were pretty good. The first thing they asked was whether I needed towed.”

Stuart Prentice, 40, saw another driver have a narrow escape as a foot-long chunk of ice just missed his car.

The Methil man was one of the last to cross the bridge southbound before it was closed when he saw the incident involving the car in front of him.

“I could see a few blocks of ice falling and one of them landed just behind the car in front of me,” he said. “There were three or four chunks in one go and I could see other bits at the side of the road that had clearly smashed.

“We were already on the bridge so we had no choice but to carry on.”

Teacher JP Ward’s car was hit by falling snow and ice as he drove through blizzards from Dalgety Bay.

He told the BBC: “I saw big white blocks falling from the bridge, thinking it was snow.

“The blocks were ranging from the size of small coffee tables to footballs, but they were as thick as phone books.”

Mr Ward’s car roof was hit by what he described as an ice block that sounded like a loud thundering bang.

“In my view, the bridge should have been closed hours earlier and I am glad to be in one piece,” he said.