It meant the closure of Scotland's busiest motorway overnight, but now the main span of the new cyclist, pedestrian and wheeler bridge over the M8 has been installed.

Connecting Sighthill and the nearby city centre, the new bridge was installed overnight on Saturday.

The new bridge will form an active travel route between Sighthill and the city centre and is part of the £250million regeneration of Sighthill, the biggest such project in the UK outside of London. The new bridge will also be part of a wider active travel network connecting Sighthill, the city centre and neighbouring communities in North Glasgow.

The Herald: Diversions were in place while new bridge was installedDiversions were in place while new bridge was installed

To allow the installation, a section of Scotland’s busiest road, the M8, closed overnight in both directions on Saturday, July 31 and Sunday, August 1.

Read more: Covid Scotland: Helping to heal the scars of the pandemic with remembrance

The installation work was carried out by BAM Nuttall of behalf of Glasgow City Council, with the impact on traffic kept to as small a scale as possible.  The bridge is funded through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

The span’s structure is made of weathering steel, which will result in lower maintenance costs and reflects both the area’s industrial heritage and the front of the new buildings such as the Sighthill community schools campus. 

The Herald: Exclusive image shows work under way on M8Exclusive image shows work under way on M8

During preparation shifts leading up to 31 July, lighting masts and barriers were removed, and the bridge span was bolted to a specialist trailer, known as an SPMT, which was then used for transporting the 1000-Tonne structure. 

The SPMT then drove, very slowly, over a period of some hours, the bridge span along the M8, with hydraulic jacks used to lift the bridge into place. This was the most complex part of the operation, as the bridge had to meet exact specifications to ensure the structure acts as designed.

Once the bridge is in place all the construction equipment was removed, the road was then inspected and reopened to traffic.

The Herald: The M8 bridge installation was carried out overnightThe M8 bridge installation was carried out overnight

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “The installation of the main span of the Sighthill M8 Bridge is a key stage in both the reconnection of Sighthill and the nearby city centre, and the wider transformation of the area, one of the UK’s biggest such projects.  When complete, this new bridge will provide a landmark gateway to Sighthill and an active travel route between Sighthill, the city centre and the communities of North Glasgow.”

Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The installation of this new bridge over the M8 represents another milestone in the delivery of the Sighthill Regeneration Project.  The Scottish Government is contributing £500 million over 20 years to the Glasgow City Region City Deal. Investment in this project through the Deal will contribute to the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs, encouraging active travel and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to Glasgow and the surrounding areas.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “Connecting Sighthill to Glasgow city centre, this major new bridge over the M8 is another important step forward in regenerating this part of the city. It will provide a convenient travel link and help boost the local economy.  The UK Government is investing more than £1.5bn into City Region and Growth deals right across Scotland, helping create jobs and drive growth as we recover from the pandemic.”

The regeneration of Sighthill – the Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area – is a partnership between Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association, and the Scottish Government, with additional funding from the Glasgow City Region City Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK Governments.