Tam's Tall Tales

- Forth Road Bridge

Forth Road Bridge - 50 Years On

The Forth Road Bridge has just passed its 50th birthday.

It was opened by the Queen in September 1964

The bridge, which took six years to build, transformed connections along the entire east coast of the UK. It now carries 25 million vehicles a year, far more than it was ever designed to take.

Before the bridge opened in 1964, the only way for cars to cross the Forth to and from Fife was by a centuries-old ferry service, creating long delays at peak times. The first crossing at what is now the site of the bridge was established in the 11th century by Margaret, queen consort of King Malcolm III, who founded a ferry service to transport religious pilgrims from Edinburgh to Dunfermline Abbey and St Andrews.

In recent years, the suspension bridge has suffered corrosion to the steel wires that hold it in place and a new crossing will open in 2016 to take all the general traffic that currently uses the Forth Road Bridge, with the 50-year-old bridge being restricted to public transport.

The bridge, inspired by San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, originally cost about 16m, a huge amount at the time. During construction, seven men died building what was then Europe's longest suspension bridge. Initially there was a toll for cars and commercial traffic using the bridge but these were scrapped in 2008. Kincardine Bridge, 15 miles further up the river Forth used to be the first vehicle crossing.

The new bridge, named Queensferry Crossing, is being constructed as a cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 1.7 miles (2.7 km). Around 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of new connecting roads are being built, including new and upgraded junctions. At an estimated cost of between 3.25 billion and 4.22 billion. it is described as "the largest construction project in a generation in Scotland".

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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