Bridging the divide

Connected society 7 July 2017 Peter Curran

A bridge does not simply get us from A to B; it also has significant consequences for economic growth, increased mobility and local communities.

8 min

From the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark to the Hong Kong-Macau link, new bridges create significant opportunities for business, populations and prosperity.

Apart from creating impressive engineering infrastructure, bridges play a vital role in developing regional economies through growth, improved travel time for commuters and more efficient distribution of goods and services.

According to an OECD study, the Oresund Bridge, for example, has been instrumental in driving economic growth and increased business cooperation in the Oresund area, while it is estimated that since its opening in 2000, the bridge has injected more than EUR 4 billion into the Danish economy.

Relieving congestion

The Queensferry Crossing, nearing completion over a 2.7 kilometre-wide section of the River Forth in Scotland, is a valuable addition to one of the most vital transport corridors in Scotland. The bridge will relieve increasing congestion on the existing Forth Road Bridge, which was designed to carry up to 11 million vehicles a year but is currently crossed by 24 million.

Ramboll has worked closely with the main contractor FCBC and the project client Transport Scotland to design the bridge, improve the surrounding road networks and bridge approaches, as well as to integrate mart motorway technology for the first time.

This technology utilises overhead gantries that provide lane and speed control – as well as informing motorists about traffic and congestion – to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and improve road safety.

The design of the connecting roads is the result of a lengthy development process that included extensive consultation with local communities and other stakeholders and will provide a major improvement to the trunk road network in the east of Scotland, as well as resulting in less impact on the environment, properties and communities.

Public transport users will also greatly benefit, as once the Queensferry Crossing is completed, the existing Forth Road Bridge will be maintained as a dedicated public transport corridor that will increase capacity and make journey times more reliable.

“Queensferry is more than just a bridge,” says Design Joint Venture Project Director Peter Curran from Ramboll UK. “It forms an essential part of the strategic road corridor to the eastern side of Scotland, and is vital for the economic wellbeing of the area.”

Queensferry Crossing facts and figures

  • It is the UK’s tallest bridge and the world’s longest three-tower cable stayed bridge. 
  • The design is a result of more than 20,000 production drawings. 
  • It is 210 metres above water level (at high tide), equivalent to about 48 double decker buses stacked on top of each other. 
  • There are 37,000 kilometres of cabling – nearly enough to span the circumference of Earth. 
  • The bridge deck weighs a total of 35,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 80 Boeing 747s. 
  • The cables can be replaced as part of normal maintenance works without closing the bridge.

Written by Andrew Somerville.