30/06/2006

Foyle Bridge safety system to be installed

A new warning system is to be put into place on the Foyle Bridge in Londonderry during high winds.

Regional Development Minister David Cairns said: “Roads Service is about to start installing a series of variable message signs strategically placed across the City. This will warn drivers when there are high winds on the Foyle Bridge and advise of alternative routes.”

The Roads Service decided to review the procedure for the closure of the bridge during high winds following the tragic accident last year when a heavy goods vehicle crashed through the safety barrier during a period of high winds, resulting in the death of lorry driver Peter McGuinness.

While an independent review into the accident found the procedures in place at the time to be satisfactory, the review did make a number of recommendations that are being implemented in full by Roads Service.

At present, when wind speeds reach the first trigger level of 30mph, signs on the bridge will display an advisory speed limit of 30mph.

If they increase to the second trigger level of 40mph, signs on the bridge approaches will direct high-sided vehicles to use the Craigavon Bridge.

Finally, when the wind speed exceeds 50mph the Foyle Bridge will be closed to all vehicles.

These restrictions should lead to a significantly enhanced safety margin for all traffic using the bridge in high winds.

The Minister continued: “I am pleased to announce that the erection of more variable message signs to facilitate the introduction of the new Bridge Management System is about to commence. The first phase of the signs, which introduce an advisory speed limit on the bridge, were installed before last winter.

The new system, costing £800,000, will have the capacity of automatically receiving information from the wind monitoring equipment on the bridge and displaying appropriate warnings and instructions on the variable message signs.”

Installation of the new system is due to begin immediately, with the commissioning and testing of the new Bridge Management System due to be completed over the summer in readiness for next winter.

(EF/SP)

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