Crossing the Clyde: Next generation of bridges planned

The Clyde Arc, known locally as the squinty bridge, opened in 2006 and was the last major crossing across the river to open. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

The Clyde Arc, known locally as the squinty bridge, opened in 2006 and was the last major crossing across the river to open. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

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WHILE work progresses on the new Queensferry Crossing over the Forth, plans are being drawn up to deliver the next generation of bridges across the Clyde.

From a small footbridge linking two historic districts of Glasgow to an ambitious multi-million road link downstream, local authorities along Scotland’s second longest river are examining new ways of bridging the gap between communities.

Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council (centre), joins Stuart Bloomfield (left) and Neil Cooper of Aird Geomatics on the banks of the Clyde at Renfrew, where a new road bridge will eventually be built

Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council (centre), joins Stuart Bloomfield (left) and Neil Cooper of Aird Geomatics on the banks of the Clyde at Renfrew, where a new road bridge will eventually be built

The former county town of Renfrew, on the south bank, has been linked with Yoker, a suburb on the edge of the city limits, by a ferry crossing for more than two centuries.

Given the two settlements’ close proximity to several major shipyards, as well as the Clyde Tunnel, it was previously considered uneconomic to build a bridge so far upstream.

Now Renfrewshire Council is advancing plans to build a 200m road bridge, costing £78m, as part of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal, which will deliver major infrastructure improvements across the region.

The crossing would be capable of opening to accommodate river traffic heading to and from the nearby BAE yards at Scotstoun and Govan.

The Renfrew crossing will be an exciting addition to the Clyde

“It’s easy to imagine this bridge spanning the Clyde and opening to allow ships to navigate the river and it’s heartening to envisage the potential growth it will unlock in the immediate area and for the Renfrewshire as a whole,” said council leader Mark Macmillan.

“The Renfrew crossing will be an exciting addition to the Clyde - and its only opening road bridge.

“It will also bring a unique engineering distinction to Renfrewshire. The Bascule Bridge and the new crossing mean that Renfrewshire will be the only place in Scotland to have two opening road bridges in such close proximity. Both bridges illustrate the importance of rivers, engineering and connectivity in Renfrewshire’s past and in its future.”

Downstream, there are plans to open a third footbridge on a stretch of the Clyde that was until the late 20th century dominated by commercial shipping.

The historic White Cart bascule bridge near Renfrew was designed by Sir William Arrol, who also oversaw construction of the Forth Bridge

The historic White Cart bascule bridge near Renfrew was designed by Sir William Arrol, who also oversaw construction of the Forth Bridge

Residents in Govan and Partick, districts in the west of Glasgow that were independent burghs until 1912, have expressed their desire to see improved connections between the two.

A charette - a community discussion group - that took place in March last year found strong support for a footbridge to be built, a plan Glasgow City Council is taking forward.

Although such a crossing is likely to be two-three years away from opening, it would most likely be built near the Riverside Museum at Kelvinhaugh.

Two footbridges at Finnieston and Stobcross - the Bell’s and Millennium bridges - have proved popular since their openings in 1988 and 2002 respectively.

They replaced a series of passenger ferries that operated along the Clyde until the late 1970s.

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council is to approach the Scottish Government to request funding to complete a refurbishment of the Clyde Tunnel, which opened in 1963 and links Whiteinch with Linthouse.

Members of the local authority’s sustainability and environment committee voted this month by a majority to approach Holyrood for cash to help pay for some of the urgent repair work required on the tunnel, which is used by 25 million cars annually.

Councillor Paul Carey, committee convener, told The Scotsman that as the link is not classed as a trunk road - despite high levels of traffic - the council must pay for the majority of its up-keep.

The number of vehicles using the tunnel has soared in recent years following the opening of the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan and the Hydro events venue in Finnieston.

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