Questions raised over Skye Bridge closure

BY MICHAEL RUSSELL
michael.russell@whfp.co.uk

Skye and Lochalsh MSP David Thompson has written to Bear Scotland asking them to explain why the Skye Bridge was closed to all traffic for so long on two occasions this month.

Mr Thompson’s concern comes as the trunk road contractor confirmed that the notice ‘closed to high sided vehicles’ that appears on signs on both sides of the narrows is advisory and is not legally enforceable. As well as the two complete closures on 6th and 21st October, the bridge was closed for long periods to high-sided vehicles on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th October.

Reports that one Co-op delivery lorry bound for stores in Broadford and Portree had to turn back to the depot in Inverness were denied by the Co-op.

A spokesman said: “One of our vehicles delivering to Skye was delayed on Saturday due to the bridge being closed to high-sided vehicles. However, it didn’t turn back — the driver waited until the bridge reopened and then continued. I’m told the delay was around five hours.”

As well as Bear Scotland, Mr Thompson has also written to Transport Scotland.

“It is difficult to understand that the weather recently is so much more severe than in the past that the Skye Bridge has now to be closed to all vehicles,” he added.

Bear Scotland this week also tried to quash a rumour that the wind speed readings were taken in kilometres per hour rather than miles per hour.

A spokesman said: “There is no confusion over units. The wind speed which is quoted on the Traffic Scotland website is the mean wind speed displayed in kph and mph.

The wind gust speed can be significantly higher. Transport Scotland is currently considering adding the wind gust information to the website.

“It is essential that safety policies and procedures relate to the actual conditions on the bridge as these can differ from those even quite close by. Strong gusts of wind and changeable conditions are the most dangerous conditions for high-sided vehicles as sudden gusts can catch drivers unawares. Conditions on the bridge can also be very different to those on the approaching roads as there is no cover once vehicles are making their way across. Measurements are therefore taken on the bridge itself, not nearby locations.

“The signs are advisory. However, if a driver chooses to ignore these signs and subsequently places themselves or other road users in danger, Police Scotland will take the appropriate action which can include them being reported for careless or dangerous driving. We would advise all motorists to respect the notices which are there for their safety and the safety of others.”