Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge, seen from Kyle of Lochash
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Skye Bridge, seen from Kyle of Lochash

Intended to replace the short ferry crossing from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye, the Skye Bridge became one of the most controversial ever to be built in Scotland. Costing £39 million, the bridge was built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and opened in 1995 by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth (b.1954).

It is 570m (623 yards) in length, although the complete crossing, which includes the Carrich Bridge and the island of Eilean Ban, extends to 1½ miles (2.4 km). The main span of this free-cantilever structure is 250m (273 yards) long and looks down on the Kyleakin Lighthouse. Around 625,000 vehicles cross the bridge annually.

Although environmental concerns gave rise to early protests, the bridge itself was generally welcomed by the local community because it made the island more accessible. However controversy centred around the tolls charged to users, the highest in Europe, and the removal of an alternative means of crossing. This gave rise to much press coverage, political debate and an active and ultimately successful protest group, Skye and Kyle Against Tolls (SKAT). A campaign of non-payment was organised and around 100 people were convicted of avoiding the bridge tolls. Following promises by the Scottish Parliament, the tolls were finally discontinued in December 2004 necessitating a payment of around £27 million from the Scottish Executive to buy the structure back from its private operators.

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