Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has backed a motoring organisation who have called on the Scottish Government to fit sensors as soon as possible to detect ice forming on cables on the Queensferry Crossing. The politician has asked Transport Minister Michael Mathieson why sensors were not fitted before the bridge opened in August 2017 due to three alarming incidents on March 16 this year when ice fell from cables and smashed three car windscreens.
With temperatures recently plummeting overnight and a harsh winter predicted by weather forecasters, Mr Fraser fears there will be a repeat of these incidents and is concerned chaos may ensue for motorists with lane closures introduced if ice does fall from the cables of the Queensferry Crossing. Mr Fraser raised the matter with the Transport Minister at the Scottish Parliament in October and was told that plans are in place to fit the required sensors which detect ice accumulation. Mr Mathieson also told Mr Fraser that the conditions that can lead to a build-up of ice of this kind are “very rare” in the Forth estuary.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that quotations are currently being sought from specialist providers and that they hope to be in a position to install the sensors in the coming months. However, Neil Greig, Policy and Research Director of IAM RoadSmart - a UK road safety charitable organisation - has called on the Scottish Government to fit the sensors promptly in case more motorists experience the shock of having their windscreens smashed by falling ice this winter.
Commenting, he said: “Drivers need more information about when the ice sensors will be fitted so they can use the Queensferry Crossing with confidence this winter. Nature has a habit of repeating very specific sets of weather conditions when you least expect them so high-tech sensors do look the best way forward and should be in place as soon as possible.”
And Mr Fraser added: “Sensors should have been fitted to the Queensferry Crossing before it opened in August 2017. We now have this very worrying situation where the weather is freezing and it looks like we’re in for a long, cold winter, with the chances of a repeat of the shocking incidents of March 16, when three car windscreens were smashed due to falling ice from the bridge’s cables.
“There is bad congestion at peak times on the Queensferry Crossing anyway but this will be compounded if lane closures have to take place due to fears of falling ice from its cables. This would result in chaos for motorists with unbearable tailbacks and frustration for those wishing to either get to work or go home.
“Yet again, the Scottish Government have tried to pull the wool over the people of Scotland by keeping quiet on this alarming issue and claiming there is nothing to worry about, when there obviously is. Attempting to downplay the seriousness of it by claiming conditions that can lead to a build-up of ice of this kind are very rare on the Forth isn’t good enough.
“I have been told that the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver, Canada, which has a similar climate as Scotland encountered the same problem as the Queensferry Crossing. The Canadian authorities discovered a solution, implemented it and then publicised it – it is mind boggling why the Scottish Government didn’t go down the same route.”