View of the Erskine Bridge from the south bank of the River Clyde.
|Official name||Erskine Bridge|
|Carries||Motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians|
|Design||Box girder bridge|
|Width||Dual two-lane carriageway, two cycle/footpaths (total width 33 m)|
|Longest span||524 m (1,719 ft)|
|Opened||2 July 1971|
|Daily traffic||~35,000 vehicles|
The bridge was designed by William Brown and opened on 2 July 1971 by HRH Princess Anne. It has a 524 m (1,719 ft) main span and two 68 m (223 ft) approach spans. It is 38 m (125 ft) high and 1,310 m (4,300 ft)long. The ceremonial plaque of the opening can be viewed on the railings of the western footpath, at the centre of the main span.
During construction of the bridge, a major collapse of the West Gate Bridge in Australia, a bridge of a similar construction, saw re-calculations in the design and it was found that it would fail to meet new standards developed as a result of the Merrison Report on the collapse of West Gate Bridge. As these standards were not published until two years later, the bridge was further stiffened after its opening.
The bridge connects the M898 motorway at Erskine in Renfrewshire on the south side to the A82 road at Old Kilpatrick in West Dunbartonshire on the northern side. The bridge itself is the A898 road and its short approach from the south is on a spur from the M8 motorway. The Erskine Bridge is the most downstream of all the Clyde bridges, and is the last point at which the estuary can be crossed by road. Its main function is to divert traffic away from Glasgow and the urban stretches of the A82 which run through the city's West End and outer suburbs. As a result, the bridge is heavily used by tourist traffic from Glasgow International Airport bound for Loch Lomond and the north west Highlands.
Until early 2006, it was a toll bridge. As part of a trunk road, it is the responsibility of the Scottish Executive, and was one of only three toll bridges in Scotland when the tolls were abolished on 31 March 2006 – the others being the Forth Road Bridge and the Tay Road Bridge, where tolls were abolished on 11 February 2008. The bridge had (briefly) been free of charge before - in 2001 an oversight caused the legislative order enforcing the toll to lapse and drivers crossed uncharged until the new order was enforced.
Its current traffic levels are estimated at 35,000 vehicles per day. For many years the bridge was considered something of a white elephant given its elaborate design yet relatively low traffic levels compared to the congested Kingston Bridge further upstream. It was expected to have a major increase in traffic since toll removal, but this has not happened to any significant degree.
On 19 September 1990, Oliver Erskine Edwards was born on the bridge. The delivery was performed by Sergeant D. Gracey Police dog handler.
On 4 August 1996, the bridge was damaged when the Texaco Captain platform, constructed upstream at Clydebank before being towed down the River Clyde, collided with the deck. The bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists on 22 August, to cars and motorcycles on 30 August and to Heavy Goods Vehicles on 22 December 1996. The cost of the repairs was £3.6 million with a further £700,000 in lost revenue from tolls.
An often overlooked feature of the bridge are four public telephone boxes situated on the twin footpaths running adjacent to the roadway on either side of the river, in addition to the regular 'SOS' phones seen on motorways. Each kiosk features an advert from the Samaritans and are provided as a service to those who may be considering suicide. The bridge is one of Scotland's most notorious suicide spots: estimates suggest that more than fifteen people commit suicide there each year.
This has also led to the Samaritans placing signs at each path leading onto the Erskine Bridge walkway. In September 2011, work started to install higher barriers along the length of the bridge, to prevent future suicide attempts.
See also 
- Charles Bulmer, ed. (10 July 1971). "Motorweek". Motor: 53.
- Department of the Environment (Merrison Committee of Inquiry) (1973). "Appendix 1: Interim Design and Workmanship Rules.". Inquiry into the Basis of Design and Method of Erection of Steel Box Girder Bridges. London: HMSO.
- Carrell, Severin (5 October 2009). "Teenage girls walked out of care home and leapt to their deaths". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- http://www.paisleydailyexpress.co.uk/renfrewshire-news/local-news-in-renfrewshire/paisley-news/2011/09/14/work-starts-to-install-new-safety-barriers-on-erskine-bridge-87085-29415538/. Missing or empty
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Erskine Bridge|
- Erskine Bridge Accounts 2003-04 (pdf)
- Erskine Bridge at Structurae
- BBC News article about the removal of the toll
-  The Erskine Bridge, The Structural Engineer, Vol 50, Issue 4, April 1972