MSPs told solving Queensferry Crossing ice 'will take time'

MSPs have been told it will take time to find a permanent solution to prevent ice from building up on the Queensferry Crossing.

MSPs have been told it will take time to find a permanent solution to prevent ice from building up on the Queensferry Crossing  picture: JPI Media
MSPs have been told it will take time to find a permanent solution to prevent ice from building up on the Queensferry Crossing picture: JPI Media

Mark Arndt from the Amey Forth Bridge Operating Company said work was being carried out to discover “permanent viable solutions” to the problem, which resulted in the £1.35 billion crossing being closed for two days.

The bridge was shut to traffic after ice that had built up in wintry weather fell from the cables, damaging eight vehicles.

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Ms Arndt said: “We are also actively looking for permanent viable solutions to mitigating ice forming in the first place. That will take time through research and development and the like.”

He spoke as MSPs on Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee questioned Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and bridge officials about the closure.

Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth told them: “It is clear that there is a problem here you haven’t got a solution to yet.”

While enhanced monitoring arrangements have been put in place on the bridge for safety so it can be closed again if there is another ice build-up, the Labour MSP said: “That is clearly not what people want to happen.

“We want to find a solution that will actually stop the bridge requiring closure.”

Mr Arndt said “various options” were being considered, including the possibility of coating the cable sheaths on the crossing with a hydrophobic material to repel water or installing heating mechanisms.

Mr Matheson said: “There isn’t an off-the-shelf solution for bridges that experience this problem. International experience would say that very often they have to look for bespoke methods in order to address this, specific to the bridge and the circumstances they are experiencing.”

He said problems arose last week when a “squall of sleet, icy weather was coming in”, resulting in ice building up on the bridge and then falling off the cables “very quickly”.

The Transport Secretary has already announced ice sensors are being installed on the crossing, which opened eight months late, in the coming months to help detect any build-up.