Kingston Bridge in Glasgow in line for accolade after 50 years and 2bn vehicles

The Kingston Bridge in Glasgow is expected to be honoured for its historic and architectural merit to mark its 50th birthday today after carrying more than 2 billion vehicles over the River Clyde.

Roads officials believe the giant motorway crossing will be bestowed with a grade B listing by Historic Environment Scotland.

The M8 bridge is the centrepiece of Britain’s biggest urban motorway network, which dramatically reduced traffic on Glasgow’s streets.

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However, the Scottish Greens said it remained a symbol of the priority given to cars.

The Kingston Bridge was one of the first stages of the M8.

The bridge was opened on 26 June 1970 by the Queen Mother as one of the first sections of the M8 through Glasgow city centre.

It took three years to build at a cost of £11 million - the equivalent of £180m today.

Its span was built nearly 20m (65ft) above the river to enable ships to pass underneath.

The bridge carries 155,000 vehicles a day - around twice as many as the Queensferry Crossing - and is estimated to have clocked up more than 2bn to date.

The bridge was built 20m high to enable ships to pass underneath.

Gordon Farquhar, 87, who was a partner with consulting engineers WA Fairhurst, which built the bridge, recalled the opening: “It was an exciting day for Glasgow.”

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “The bridge has become an iconic landmark in Glasgow over the half century it’s been in operation.

“The crossing played its part in taking a significant amount of traffic off the city centre streets and paved the way for the pedestrianisation of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argylecorr Street.

“There is no doubt it continues to play a vital role, carrying around 155,000 vehicles a day.

The bridge and its network of slip roads looking south.

“The work that’s been carried out to ensure it continues to do this job in the future has also won civil engineering awards, so applying to have the Kingston Bridge listed seems a fitting way to mark its impact over the past 50 years.”

The Glasgow Motorway Archive, whose exhibition about the bridge has been postponed by the Covid crisis, appealed to those who worked on the project to get in touch.

Chair Stuart Baird said: “The bridge was recognised as one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects undertaken in Scotland at the time, and it’s had a huge impact in shaping the city.

“Listing the bridge doesn’t simply acknowledge its unique engineering and architectural features, it also recognises the work of the people that designed, built and maintained it over.

The bridge in the 1970s. Picture: Glasgow Motorway Archive.

“We are keen to hear from those who worked on the bridge and other major roads projects.”across Scotland and invite them to get in touch via our website.”

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Elizabeth McCrone, head of designations at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We are delighted to consider the bridge for listing on its milestone 50th anniversary.

“It is a key part of Scotland’s first motorway and is one of the busiest road bridges in Europe.

“We’d love to hear what the people of Scotland think about the proposal to recognise it as a listed structure and you can do this by going to our website and giving your views”

However, Scottish Greens co-leader and Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie was unimpressed with the milestone.

The view from the north end of the bridge during construction in 1970. Picture: Glasgow Motorway Archive.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s adoration of the Kingston Bridge on its 50th anniversary reflects the reality that little has changed in transport policy during that time.

“The construction of the M8 and the bridge put the convenience of motorists ahead of communities.“Even today, in a city where more than half of residents don’t own a car, the prioritisation of private cars continues.

“The Scottish Government’s continued obsession with road expansion projects at the expense of investment in public transport must change.”

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The bridge in the mid-1970s. Picture: Glasgow Motorway Archive.
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