motorists faced major delays and chaos yesterday as the Forth Road Bridge was closed for the second time this year.
Despite warning signs being in place which prohibited high-sided vehicles from crossing, a lorry continued to travel across the bridge and was subsequently blown on to its side on the northbound carriageway at around 2.50pm.
It took several hours for recovery services to tow the lorry away due to winds which were gusting up to 55mph. The bridge eventually reopened at around 6.30pm yesterday.
Lorries are not permitted to cross the Forth Road Bridge when winds reach 50mph. Warning signs to stop high-sided vehicles from crossing had been in place for around three hours before the incident.
The chaos caused by the closure has sparked calls for action to stop drivers from flouting the restrictions.
Glen Heeps, a commuter who was driving over the bridge and saw the lorry lying on its side, said: “I was travelling southbound before the bridge was closed in both directions and it looked very dangerous.
“The trailer of the vehicle was swinging on the central bit of the bridge, probably around the same spot as the lorry blew over last time. There should be a system in place to stop high sided vehicles crossing because there are always going to be people that take chances.”
Yesterday’s closure came after a lorry was blown from the bridge’s northbound carriageway on to the southbound side during bad weather in January. The bridge was closed to HGVs at the time.
A West Lothian firm has called for police to intercept vehicles attempting to cross the bridge when high-wind restrictions are in force.
Grant Phillips, chief executive of UK Accident Repair Group, said: “The police need to be proactive in this situation, not as we are at present, which is reactive. We have now had two incidents in fewer than 12 weeks and it is down to good fortune rather than good management that we have not seen fatalities. Whether it will be third time lucky only time will tell, unless we act now before we read a very different headline.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, MSP for Edinburgh Western, said: “The impact of the bridge closure in 2015 and earlier this year caused major disruption to commuters and tourists, it just goes to show how fragile the resilience of our arterial routes are. I’d like to thank the staff that are involved in the clean up as they are working in dangerous weather conditions.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police were in attendance on the Forth Road Bridge after a high-sided vehicle overturned on the northbound carriageway.
“The incident happened around 2.50pm on Tuesday, March 14. Warning signs were in place prohibiting high-sided vehicles from crossing the bridge due to high winds.
“Inquiries are ongoing into the full circumstances.”