Bell's Bridge reopens after £1.6m upgrade

A FAMOUS Glasgow bridge, which has been closed for a £1.6million upgrade, has reopened.

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Bell's Bridge was built for the Garden Festival in 1988 and links the SECC to the south bank of the Clyde.

It was originally meant as a temporary structure to take pedestrians and cyclists to and from the massive event.

But it now has ­renewed importance ­because of the Commonwealth Games as it will provide a link bet­ween the media centres at ­Pacific Quay with the SECC complex.

Both venues will be important during the sporting spectacle as they will host boxing, netball, gymnastics, judo, weight lifting and wrestling, the international broadcasting centre and the main press centre.

The bridge, which swings open to allow ships to pass, was owned by Scottish Enterprise but was taken over by the city council on condition the organisation funded the £1.6m restoration costs.

Scottish Enterprise will also provide £900,000 for its long-term maintenance.

The upgrade has resulted in the bridge canopy, which was removed in 2006, being replaced.

It has also resulted in the structure being blast cleaned and repainted, its hydraulics, electrics and mechanics being overhauled and new lighting installed.

The bridge was built by Sir William Arrol and Company, which was set up by a civil engineer who built three of the most famous bridges in the world.

He was responsible for the Forth Rail Bridge, the Tay Rail Bridge and London's iconic Tower Bridge.

But Sir William also built countless other bridges, including Great Western Bridge, over the River Kelvin.

Recently, the Institution of Civil Engineers unveiled an iron plaque on the A-listed West End bridge to mark the 100th anniversary of the engineer's death.

Alistair Watson, the city council's executive member for land services, said: "I am delighted to see Bell's Bridge has now reopened to the public and look forward to it quickly becoming a well-used route across the Clyde.

"The bridge has played a key role in many events down at the riverside since being built for the Garden Festival more than a quarter of a century ago and next year, of course, it will transport spectators and audiences to world-class performances at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, The SSE Hydro and other SECC venues."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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