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Falling icicles force Severn bridge closures

The operator of the two Severn bridges this week admitted that it was struggling to prevent massive icicles forming on bridge cables and falling on traffic below.

The crossings have had to close twice in the past 10 months when ice fell onto live traffic.

In February 2009, falling ice smashed the windscreens of cars below (NCE 19 February 2009).

Last month the two crossings had to close again when ice formed on the suspension cables of the M48 Severn Bridge and on the cable stays of the M4 Second Severn Crossing. One lane of the M48 was kept open in both directions.

The bridges operator said it was at a loss to know where to seek help. “In the past year we have been making contact with other operators of similar crossings in northern Europe.

No-one has got an acceptable solution and they have been experts for more years than we have,” said Severn River Crossings general manager Jim Clune.

He said the only solution is to close the bridges when icicles formed − an approach used on similar structures overseas.

Avon & Somerset and Gwent police plus the Highways Agency can close the bridges.

Clune said he would continue to investigate options to prevent the ice build up.

“We have had approaches from companies that mention using heat on the cables but so far these have not been workable or affordable.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • What about the Øresund link between Denmark and Sweden, they must get ice (cold and wet climate)?

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