Transport bosses have announced that plans have been scrapped for a “expensive” ice protection device for Scotland’s flagship road bridge to save money.
The entry comes less than four weeks after the £ 1.3 billion Queensferry Crossing, which connects Edinburgh and Fife, was closed due to ice for the second year in a row.
The crossing, the product of Scotland’s largest infrastructure project in a decade, was closed on Dec. 4 for four hours, but only after patrol officers found the ice falling.
And yesterday, it was announced that Transport Scotland, sponsored by the Scottish government, was testing bridges across the globe to avoid the formation of ice at the crossing.
Scottish Roads Director Hugh Gillies claimed in a letter to Labour MP Alex Rowley that any feasible solution would have to be “bespoke” as there was “no off-the-shelf solution.”
The Queensferry Crossing was praised as a “symbol of a confident, forward-thinking Scotland” and a “feat of modern engineering.” by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when it opened to traffic in August 2017.
Farce Road Bridge: Unbelief as Queensferry Crossing, despite new ice sensors, was forced to close again
The 3.5-meter-high wind shields would “almost completely eliminate the need for closures.” before opening, the bridge operators said.
The road maintenance contractor of Transport Scotland, Bear Scotland, has admitted that because of the expense, ice prevention measures were not included in the bridge’s design.
During the bridge’s construction, ice on the cables was deemed a “potential problem” but road maintenance contractor Bear Scotland said it would be a “relatively rare event” in the environment of the Forth.
“Therefore, rather than invest in an expensive preventative system that may only be needed infrequently, the decision was made to manage any ice incidents through operational measures – i.e. closing the carriageway on the rare occasions they occur,” Bear said.
In November, following the installation of new ice sensors as part of a series of steps to enhance the detection and management of ‘ice accumulation,’ Transport Minister Michael Matheson indicated that the administration had learned a lesson from last winter, when the intersection, the outcome of Scotland’s largest infrastructure project in a decade, was closed after reports of vehicle ice dropping.
“monitor and respond to the specific weather conditions that we know can cause ice to form on the cables.”monitor and respond to the specific weather conditions that we know can cause ice to form on the cables.
“should continue to improve as the deep L sensors collect data from future incidents.”should continue to improve as data from future incidents is obtained by the deep L sensors.
But it admitted that it could not stop ice from forming at the crossing.
“Our long-term goal is to develop a solution that prevents ice from forming on the cables, and the better we understand the conditions that cause this problem, the better our chances of success,” Bear said. “Every bridge has different design details and operates in a different climate, so there is no off-the-shelf solution that will work for the Queensferry Crossing – any such solution will be custom.”
There was already a multi-million pound real-time sensing system with 2,300 sensors mounted, including environmental measurements, according to the contractor’s original details. These include wind monitoring anemometers, barometers, precipitation gauges, and sensors for air temperature and humidity.
However, Transport Scotland reported that it is not expected that the system will be fully operational until later in 2020.
Last October, Matheson promised that sensors that “detect ice accumulation” will be added to the bridge and incorporated into the current monitoring system in response to an MP’s query about solving the ice problem.
In February, the Scottish Conservatives blamed ministers for not addressing the issue earlier after another ice incident, claiming that “one of Scotland’s most critical transport routes exposes an SNP government in a capital city.”