Kingston Bridge, Glasgow
The Kingston Bridge is a balanced cantilever dual-span ten lane road bridge made of triple-cell segmented prestressed concrete box girders crossing the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The bridge carries the M8 motorway through the city centre. The Kingston Bridge is one of the busiest road bridges in Europe, carrying around 150,000 vehicles every day.

The name of the bridge referred to the erstwhile Kingston Dock which was located on the south bank of the river. It had been completed in 1867 between Windmillcroft Quay and the former headquarters of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society on Morrison Street in Tradeston, adjacent to where the bridge now stands. It was Glasgow's first enclosed dock. The dock was eventually closed to navigation in 1966, when work began on the construction of the Kingston Bridge, and the basin was subsequently in-filled and apartments built on the site. At the time of construction however the Clyde Port Authority still insisted that the bridge have a clearance height of 18m (60ft) in order to allow dredgers to go upstream as far as the King George V Bridge. The bridge was designed by William A. Fairhurst and built by Logan- Marples Ridgeway.

The bridge connects Anderston and the city centre at Junction 18/19 with Tradeston and the Gorbals at Junction 20. The bridge consists of two parallel spans, each 21m (68ft) wide, with each supporting a five lane deck. The eastern span carrying southbound traffic and the western span carrying northbound traffic over the river. The approaches to the bridge are also linked with many junctions of their own, including major city centre ramps and the M77, that are two lanes wide. The outer spandrels of the bridge are clad with exposed- aggregate panels showing vertical joints.

When opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1970, the bridge was designed to handle only 20,000 vehicles a day. By 1990, the sheer excess volume and weight of traffic, combined with poor design and flaws in construction, resulted in serious structural deterioration being discovered in the bridge A decade-long repair and renovation programme was initiated to repair and strengthen the bridge. These repairs have involved strengthening the quay walls and jacking-up the 52,000- tonne deck of the bridge, while still operational, to allow the construction of new supporting Piers, before lowering the bridge back onto the new, more robust supports. It was described by the contractor, Balfour Beatty, as one of the most ambitious civil engineering projects to take place in the city. Indeed, the operation involved 128 hydraulic jacks, making it the biggest ever bridge lift, qualifying for the Guinness Book of Records. A longer-term attempt to solve the problem of chronic congestion is the M74 northern extension, to act as the southern flank of the unbuilt Glasgow Inner Ring Road first planned in the 1960s. The existing "ski ramp" where the Inner Ring was intended to continue on will remain unused; the extended M74 is planned to meet the M8 a few hundred yards further south at Scotland Street. This change of plan from the Scottish Executive is because of the Kingston Bridge's inability to handle an increase in traffic: the thinking is that the increased traffic from the new road will not then go straight over the bridge and will enable traffic from the south east, heading west to Ayrshire, Glasgow International Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, or the docks at Greenock, Hunterston and Braehead, to bypass the Glasgow city centre section of the M8. At the Public Inquiry into the road scheme, critics countered that this would mean an increase in ground-level traffic in the Tradeston area as commuters attempt to gain access to the bridge's access ramps. With the M74 extension project not due for completion until early 2011, a shorter term solution to the congestion problems has been the Clyde Arc or "Squinty Bridge", which opened in September 2006 - this route is expected to take at least some of the local short-distance traffic away from the Kingston. There is a dubious urban myth that the fourth man in the Williamwood bank robbery is buried in the pillars of the bridge. A long-exposure image of the bridge was also featured on the rear album cover of Deacon Blue's album, Raintown.


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