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Experts reject Bridge wind protection

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CONSULTANTS SAID this week that installing wind protectors on the Foyle Bridge near Londonderry would be 'inappropriate' even though a lorry was blown off the structure in January.

The official investigation into the accident and its causes suggests instead that a phased sequence of speed and traffi c restrictions should be introduced in bad weather.

These would use variable message signs to progressively cut speed limits, warn drivers of dangers and divert the most vulnerable high sided vehicles.

An articulated lorry crashed off one of the Foyle Bridge's approach spans during high winds in January (NCE 20 January). It fell 35m onto mudflats, killing the driver.

Hyder Consulting technical director Phil Tindall said the 20 year old bridge had no previous history of wind related accidents.

'The wind pattern there is relatively stable and steady, without the erratic gusting you fi d on bridges like the fi st Severn crossing, ' he said.

Vehicle drivers do not normally struggle to keep control, he said, even in winds.

The lorry involved in the accident was particularly vulnerable as it was an unloaded HGV with a curtain sided trailer.

Hyder's investigation for Northern Ireland's Department for Regional Development roads service found that the proper procedures had been in place for wind operation with a reasonable wind speed threshold ( of 80km/h) for closure. That speed had not been reached at the time of the accident.

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