Agencies meet to discuss recent Skye Bridge closures
A meeting has been held by local Councillors with representatives from BEAR Scotland, Police Scotland and NHS Highland, to discuss concerns raised by members of the public following recent closures of the Skye Bridge.
As 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.
A key factor in triggering the three levels of warning and closures for the bridge is the maximum gust speed recorded by the anemometer which for a number of years has been sited on the bridge at a point adjacent to Eileen Ban. Councillors were advised during the meeting that the position of the anemometer had not changed and calibration testing was carried out in August this year by the company who have the contract for the equipment.
The 3 levels of warning are:
Stage 1 – gusts greater than 35mph but less than 50mph triggers caution high winds
Stage 2 – gusts of 50mph and greater but less than 75mph triggers closed to high sided vehicles
Stage 3 – gusts of 75mph and greater closed to all vehicles and pedestrians.
Each stage is recorded by the anemometer equipment and automatically the appropriate response is generated and sent to the key partners for action.
BEAR Scotland will also 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.
Councillor Drew Millar who chaired the meeting said: “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.”