Bear hints that bridge closures will continue

Bear Scotland have promised to improve how they manage the effects of closing the Skye Bridge — but the policy that saw two recent closures in the space of three weeks will remain.

A meeting was held between local councillors, representatives from Bear, Police Scotland and NHS Highland on Monday to discuss concerns raised by members of the public following recent closures of the Skye Bridge.

bridge-traffic-2As a result of recent bridge closures, the current wind management plan for the bridge is to be reviewed by BEAR Scotland with an input from all stakeholders. The outcomes will be shared with the elected members and the public.  Part of this review will include putting a new traffic management plan in place for both the Kyle side and the Kyleakin side of the bridge which would be used during any future closures.

According to councillor Drew Millar, if the software used by the Bear Scotland equipment predicts gusts as strong as the one that led to the bridge closing, the bridge will stay closed to all traffic until at least half an hour elapses between gusts greater than 75 mph. Gusts between 50mph and 75 mph will close the bridge to high sided vehicles.

Mr Millar added: “My fellow councillors and I felt it was important to get agencies together following the number of concerns being raised by the public and businesses’, looking to understand more about what activates the bridge closing and what more can be done to alert them.  Maintaining the route to and from our Island is vital not only to the convenience of people living, working and visiting Skye, but also for the economic impact on communities both sides of the bridge.

“The meeting was extremely useful and informative with all the agencies round the table contributing fully and committed to working together as partners to make any closures in the future easier on the travelling public.”

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s Operating Company Representative for the north west unit added: “Although there has been no change to the way wind speeds are measured or closures are triggered on the Skye bridge, the recent weather conditions have highlighted some concerns to us, and to members of the public.

“Following recent meetings we are keen to investigate further with our stakeholders including Transport Scotland, The Highland Council and Police Scotland, and we are already putting a plan into action that will see improved systems for advising people of restrictions or closures when high winds occur.”

In future, Bear Scotland will create a stakeholder group e-mail list specifically for weather warnings and wind closure information for the Skye Bridge.  Anyone will be able to sign up to receive automatic alerts from the monitoring system on the bridge by text or e-mail. Timely updates will also be posted on Twitter.