TRANSPORT officials are examining re-opening the Forth Road Bridge to cars as a contingency as it again tries to deal with issues of falling ice on the Queensferry Crossing.

Scotland's flagship road bridge connecting Edinburgh and Fife will shut again as engineers seek to create a potential emergency diversion in the wake of the latest row over falling ice.

Officials are looking at allowing the Forth Road Bridge to be used as a diversion route if the Queensferry Crossing is out of action.

Officials had looked at using the Forth Road Bridge last winter, after the £1.3bn crossing was shut for two days after icicles hit eight cars.

The Scottish Government then came under fire then for failing to take sufficent action over the falling ice issues after three cars were struck by ice falling from crossing cables in March, 2018.

The new move comes after the Queensferry Crossing was shut for four hours on Friday after patrol staff noticed ice falling.

It is the third winter in a row that falling ice has plagued the £1.35bn crossing and the second time it has been forced to shut down.

The development came a month after transport secretary Michael Matheson suggested lessons had been learnt from last winter's ice fall issues.

He spoke while it was announced efforts has been made to prevent the issue with ice sensors installed.

READ MORE: Farce Road Bridge -  Disbelief as Queensferry Crossing forced to shut yet again despite new ice sensors

Both the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge will be closed to traffic in both directions from 10pm on December 12 to allow Transport Scotland’s maintenance company BEAR Scotland to test the implementation of an emergency diversion.

HeraldScotland:

Motorists will be diverted via the Kincardine Bridge until approximately 8am on Sunday, December 13 adding an estimated 36 miles and 40 minutes to affected journeys.

Engineers said they will be testing how long it takes to open up the diversion and close it again, without yet directing any traffic over the Forth Road Bridge.

BEAR Scotland says a further trial with traffic diverted over the Forth Road Bridge will be carried out later this winter.

It was indicated that hopes of using the Forth Road Bridge in an emergency had been put back because of work to replace the over 50-year-old main expansion joints.

Chris Tracey, BEAR Scotland’s south east bridges manager, said: “The purpose of this closure is to test how long it will take to implement an emergency diversion via the Forth Road Bridge in the event that the Queensferry Crossing has to be closed to traffic.

“This is a complex process involving removing roadside barriers and laying a large number of cones and signs, so we need to carry out a trial in order to measure precisely how long it will take and refine our procedures. This will allow us to implement a diversion as quickly and efficiently as possible when required.

“It has always been our intention to use the Forth Road Bridge as an emergency diversion route once its full capacity is available. We’ve been working with Police Scotland and our traffic management contractors to plan this test for some time.

“On this occasion we’ll therefore just be testing how long it takes to open up the diversion and close it again, without directing any traffic over the Forth Road Bridge. A further trial with traffic diverted over the Forth Road Bridge will be carried out later this winter.

“I’d like to thank bridge users in advance for their patience and understanding. We’ve scheduled this closure overnight in order to minimise disruption, however our advice if you do need to travel at this time is to plan ahead and allow extra time for your journey.”

When it opened to traffic in August, 2017, it was heralded by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as "a symbol of a confident, forward-looking Scotland" and a "feat of modern engineering".

Before it opened, bridge operators said the 3.5m high wind shields, would "almost entirely eliminate the need for closures".

And at the start of last month it announced efforts to prevent the issue with ice sensors installed.

Infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson suggested the administration had learned a lesson from last winter when the crossing, which was the result of the biggest infrastructure project in Scotland in a generation, was closed following reports of ice falling on vehicles for a second successive year.

In February eight vehicles were damaged before the crossing was closed for the first time since it opened in 2017 on safety grounds.

It led to lengthy tailbacks as drivers take a 35-mile diversion, crossing the Kincardine Bridge.

Calls were then made for an urgent investigation into ice issues on the 1.7 mile publicly funded bridge which arose 11 months after giant icicles smashed the windscreens of three cars after they snapped off from cables on the crossing.

The Herald previously revealed that the problem came despite an existing multi-million pound sensor system being unable to properly detect ice.

At the start of November, it was confirmed that ice sensors had been installed on the Queensferry Crossing as "part of a number of measures to improve the detection and management of ice accretion".