Home Kent News High winds shut QEII bridge amid Met Office weather warning

High winds shut QEII bridge amid Met Office weather warning

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Original article from Kent Live

The QEII bridge is shut this afternoon (May 21) as high winds batter Kent.

The Met Office has issued a weather warning for the county, which will expire at 9pm today.

The forecaster says wind gusts could reach high speeds of 47mph in Dartford, creating issues on our road network.

Lane closures and speed limits had already been put in place at the Dartford Crossing this morning, with delays building up on either side of the M25.

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A spokesman for Highways England said on Twitter: "The A282 eastbore tunnel (northbound) at Dartford Crossing is closed.

"This is in preparation for a full closure of the QEII bridge (southbound) as a result of strong winds.

"Traffic heading south will travel contra-flow in the eastbore tunnel. Updates to follow."

For all the latest on this breaking traffic incident follow our live blog here.

Why does the Dartford Crossing have to close?

Motorists who use the crossing often will know how frustrating it can be when it is closed.

But the Queen Elizabeth II bridge must shut if there is a risk to the safety of drivers.

And periods of high winds are one of these risks.

Highways England's protocol sets out when exactly they have to close the Dartford Crossing.

The protocol ensures motorists are protected against possible accidents which can be caused by high winds.

Here are the three precautions they take:

Speed limit

When the crosswind speed reaches 50 mph or the headwind speed reaches 60 mph, speed limit signs at the crossing will reduce to a limit of 30 mph.

Lane closures

Lane closures are introduced if the crosswind speed reaches 55mph or the headwind speed reaches highs of 65mph.

If the wind is from the east, lanes two and four will be closed; if the wind is from the west, lanes one and three will be closed.

Bridge closure

When crosswinds reach over 60mph, the QEII Bridge completely closes to all traffic.

All these precautions can be kept in place until high winds have passed.

A spokesman for Highways England has previously talked about the protocol in place which will deem the crossing unsafe for motorists when it comes to wind speeds.

The spokesman said: "When the crosswind speed reaches 50 mph or the headwind speed reaches 60 mph, the matrix and variable speed limit signs at the crossing will be activated to show an advisory limit of 30 mph.

"When the crosswind speed reaches 55 mph or the headwind speed reaches 65 mph, lane closures will be introduced.

"If the wind is from the east, lanes 2 and 4 will be closed, if the wind is from the west, lanes 1 and 3 will be closed.

"When the on-site anemometers and Met Office forecast predicts the crosswind speeds increasing to over 60 mph, the QEII Bridge will be closed to all traffic."

Original Article