THE Queensferry Crossing has reopened after icy conditions forced it to close yesterday, with transport bosses saying the “unique set weather conditions” would put the safety of travellers at risk.

The bridge was initially closed to traffic heading south on Monday night after eight cars were hit by ice falling from cables.

It is the first time the £1.35 billion bridge has been closed since it opened in 2017. It coincided with roadworks on the old bridge, which meant it was also closed to general traffic, although public transport could still go that way.

The combined closures left commuters facing detours of up to 35 miles. Chaos on the road followed, with drivers facing delays of up to two hours.

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Mark Arndt, of the Forth Bridges Unit at Amey, said there was little choice but to close the bridge: “We had a combination of strong westerly winds ... a mixture of snow and sleet that resulted in snow accumulations on the main cables of the Queensferry Crossing.

“At an elevated height, that snow accumulation became chilled.

“It accumulated in a reasonable size and fell to the carriageway. And it was on the grounds of safety that we took the decision to close the bridge.”

The National:

Michael Matheson, the Scottish transport secretary (above), apologised to drivers, saying: “I recognise the frustration of travellers today, and I very much regret that the bridge has been closed for the first time, but it is a bridge that’s given us much greater resilience than the old Forth Road Bridge.

“There’s now been something like 30 occasions when we would have had only partial or no use of the Forth Road Bridge, whereas the Queensferry Crossing is continuing to function.”

He added: “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.

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“We are developing our understanding of these conditions, which involve a certain consistency of snow and/or sleet, wind speed and direction, interacting with 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.

“We are doing all we can to mitigate the impacts of this closure. A diversion route is in place via the Kincardine Bridge and I would encourage those travelling from further away – Perth or Dundee to Glasgow for example, to consider an alternative route avoiding the main diversion where possible.”

The National: The queues for the Kincardine bridge tailed back a long wayThe queues for the Kincardine bridge tailed back a long way

Scotrail put extra services in place to assist with problems caused by the road bridge’s closure.

When it was opened in 2017, the bridge was supposed to be able to withstand all types of weather. Amey said a combination of snow, wind and fluctuating temperatures had caused ice to build up and then fall.

Sensors to detect ice build-up earlier are due to be installed this year.

JP Ward, whose car was hit by falling snow and ice on Monday, said: “I saw big white blocks falling from the bridge, thinking it was snow. A few cars were swerving to miss them and hitting the brakes, causing potential accidents.”

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He added: “At this point I saw several pieces falling across the three lanes. The blocks were ranging from [the size of] small coffee tables to footballs, but they were as thick as phone books.”

Councillor David Ross, co-leader of Fife Council, said there were questions to be asked about the construction of the bridge: “This closure, even for a day or two, causes considerable difficulties for residents and businesses in Fife.

“I understand the closure is because of the danger of falling ice and snow from the bridge. Given that it’s not unusual for Scotland to experience periods of freezing and snowy weather, I want to know if this wasn’t taken into consideration in the design of the bridge.”