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. There were several firms involved in the initial construction of the Erskine Bridge. The structural engineering was done by Freeman Fox & Partners. The contractors were Christiani & Nelsen, Fairfield-Mabey, Lehane Mackenzie & Shand Ltd out of which Lehane Mackenzie and Shand Ltd were responsible for the foundation of the bridge. The stay cable steel supplier was Bridon International. Further down the line, Force Technology was responsible for new wind tunnel testing. The construction material used to construct the deck and pylons was steel.The bridge was 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 1,321.87 m (4,336.8 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 also operates an overload detection system. The installed Hi-Trac 100+ logs the vehicle axle weight information using Class 1 BL Piezo Electric sensors and the system couples this data with the ANPR data to produce evidence showing all relevant information. There is an additional camera that takes 5 photos of the vehicle from a side-on view which can identify the haulage company and also the load carried if necessary. This also helps with clarifying if HGV axles are lifted when they shouldn’t be. This system is fully operational and reports can be printed for overweight vehicles if necessary and the offending parties can be shown the evidence.
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 19th September 1990, Oliver Erskine Edwards was born on the bridge. The delivery was performed by Sergeant D. Gracey Police dog handler. As if that wasn’t unusual enough, a second baby, Kiera Sarah-Marie McFettridge, was born in an ambulance on the Bridge on 18th January 2011. The bridge has also been used once by a group of base jumpers in August 2010. A Navy Sea King helicopter from HMS Gannet, coastguard teams and officers from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue were all called out to the bridge following the incident.
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. The road barriers are also due for a safety upgrade thus meaning the bridge will only have one lane open during the upgrade which will last ten months, this commenced on September 2013. 
- Carrell, Severin (5 October 2009). "Teenage girls walked out of care home and leapt to their deaths". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 May 2010.
|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