High dependency & crossing bridges!

Susann 2 croppedThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

I’ve no doubt that each reader seeing the title of this post will immediately have some particular thought in mind…and that’s why I’ve specially chosen this title, today. For me, it’s been quite an emotional week since decisions have been made which sadden me greatly but which I, and my country of Scotland, have no control over.

Someone might think of high dependency in terms of a patient needing the highest level of 24-hour nursing care in a dedicated unit – i.e. the patient’s life being dependent on a variety of machines and procedures which may, or may not, involve drug therapies. Another may think of people who are totally dependent on daily life prolonging drug use i.e. controlled drug use for many conditions and needs over a 24 hour time period. Some of my fellow wranglers have recently been in a position to need a lot of nursing care, or their dependants (British English) have, and I wish them well. intensive care 5584757_sOthers may immediately think of the misuse of mainly Class A drugs and what the ramifications are for those individuals who choose to dabble with drugs for recreational reasons, become dependent on them and sometimes later become dependent on society to pick up the pieces of their fractured lives in high dependency units.

Naturally, we can’t forget the basic daily needs for survival for which we are dependent on: oxygen(clean air);  food (including essential water); shelter ( a place to sleep and to provide warmth). As we all regret at times, this is a combination that not all human beings across the planet have on a daily basis. Some readers might argue there needs to be other aspects added to this basic survival list and I’m happy for you to make suggestions, but a mobile phone and computer do not qualify…in my humble opinion. 😉

The basic survival needs aside, the present lifestyle for many people means they are dependent on a lot more.

  • The infrastructure in our local environment.
  • Petrol (gasoline) and diesel needed to fuel our vehicles; natural gas to power our heating systems. I’m glad to applaud those who have dependency on electricity that’s not powered by gas, coal, oil or nuclear fusion but is powered by natural resources like wind, water, wave and solar energies. (I’ve blogged a bit about this earlier this year and I’m still working towards reducing my own carbon imprint)

It hits really hard when there’s a disruption to those supplies that we’ve become so dependent on when war, or political strategies, cause fluctuations in prices or supplies. In war-torn Syria, the oil production and supply situation is incredibly complex and brings huge ramifications to innocent civilians.

  • Across the world we depend on our transport systems running smoothly- our trains and planes and coaches being ‘well lubricated’ and running to time for daily commuters.

And…that brings me to a little problem that’s newly  developed in my small country of Scotland. With approximately 5.4 million inhabitants, our daily commuting issues are small potatoes compared to larger countries around the world. Yet, when something snarls up the system, the consequences can be incredibly devastating to those who are dependent daily commuters. Most Scottish commuters are centred around the main cities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. Those who use the roads systems tend to be driving across the cities or are approaching from the main compass points via the busiest interconnections on the motorways or dual carriageways. Sometimes their commutes involve crossing bridges.

Forth bridges
Forth Road Bridge with Forth Railway Bridge behind it.

Since a few days ago, the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh has developed a major headache. Many of those who commute into Edinburgh city cross the River Forth by the Forth Road Bridge (approximately 70, 000 vehicles per day). Sadly for them, a structural defect has been flagged up during routine testing of the 51 year old steel structure and supports. This means that the Forth Road Bridge will be closed for some time, possibly not reopened before the New Year. That kind of closure means total disaster for the highly dependent users of the bridge…yet safety is paramount. 

At this time of year, the bridge is sometimes closed to high-sided vehicles due to high winds and occasionally snow closes the bridge for a short time, but to be closed for a long duration for maintenance will mean massive knock-on effects. Those highly dependent road users can travel across country to the Kincardine Bridge, which in miles isn’t actually all that far away, but resorting to use it will cause massive tailbacks on that already very busy bridge during commuting times.

Will the ferries across the River Forth become much busier as they absorb extra traffic? That answer is a decided NO because there are NO operating ferries across the River Forth. There are pleasure ferries for tourists plying the waters during the summer months but it’s been decades since there has been a regular vehicular ferry crossing. It’s interesting to note in this article below that there’s an  indication that they may be able to somehow rustle up a ferry service to cope with the situation and strategies are in place to cope with the disruption, as best they can with the present infrastructure.


As I write this post, I can’t help but think of when I was writing The Taexali Game, my time travel novel for YA /Teens. I was imagining the Ancient Roman armies of Emperor Severus ( approximately 30-40,000 men) forging their pathway northwards to my part of Aberdeenshire back in AD 210. To get there from Eboracum (York, England) they used the established supply forts in northern England and southern Scotland to cater to their needs. Historians have postulated that some of those Roman troops may have crossed the River Forth near the site where the current damaged Forth Road Bridge is situated ( a Severan Roman coin find could indicate this). The local Celtic Votadini tribe built no bridges (at least none that we know of), so crossing the Uisge For – lower River Forth- by the Romans would have been by creating makeshift pontoon bridges.

pontoon bridge Trajan
Pontoon bridge from Trajan’s Column – Wikimedia Commons

Pontoon bridges made from lashed-together flat bottomed boats were constructions the ancient Roman armies used throughout the Roman Empire when they had a need to cross over water to get to their final destination more quickly than by a detour across the land.

If the Romans did construct pontoon bridges to cross the Forth, then the crossing wouldn’t have been immediate but they were such a disciplined entity that the crossing would not have been delayed for any longer than necessary.

What is about to happen to the Forth Road Bridge will be a daily case of “Watch this space!” on the news bulletins. I expect to also hear daily bulletins about the current situation in Syria and other war-torn terrorist threatened world destinations.

Sadly, there are many kinds of bridges to cross across the world to make it a safer place.

ps I’ve just seen a comment on Twitter to lighten up my slightly gloomy and reflective post today and to show that people can overcome adversity when they want to! 😉 “To all Edinburgh citizens laughing at Fifers being cut off from you, the Amazon Warehouse is on our side. Merry Christmas!”  ( Fifers= people of Fife who live north of the River Forth)

If you’ve time, and this link works, you’ll see more humorous responses!  http://www.forth1.com/local/social-media-responds-to-the-closure-of-the-forth-road-bridge-in-the-best-way-possible/

More info on The Forth Railway and Road Bridges, and other potential crossing methods here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31712005

Apart from your basic daily needs what do you think you are also dependent on?

Enjoy your weekend. 

Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series)The_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_Kindle

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

CFS End Sept 2015


Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

3 mysteries no wordsMost novels are available in print and ebook formats from Barnes and Noble; NOOK; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores


22 thoughts on “High dependency & crossing bridges!

  1. Ah, crossing the river can be problematic. I’d many bridges to cross growing up near the Mississippi river, and when one shuts down for lengthly periods it is a problem. And it did happen more than once. Here’s to a resolve of the problem sooner than expected. Doris


    1. Thanks Doris. It doesn’t affect me personally because I don’t intend to go to Edinburgh anytime soon but I know people affected by it -and they’ll get by!


  2. Mentioning pontoon brides that may have been constructed by Roman Army makes me think back to the days when I obsessed on the American Civil War. Union engineers were quite proficient at building bridges for transport needs of the various armies in the field. They too used pontoons to construct bridges across the various rivers in the Eastern and Western theaters. They also built huge railroad bridges after Confederate raiders went on ‘burning’ missions. I’m also now thinking of the temporary harbors the Allies built in World War II for the Normandy invasion.


    1. Yes, Mike. When times have merited them ways of crossing rivers have been found and the ‘pontoon’ styles are quite versatile in their simplicity. I’d not want to cross the River Forth on a pontoon bridge where the Forth Road Bridge is, though. It’s about 2 and 1/4 miles long ( I think) and the very regular cross winds can be fearsome. I walked to the middle of the Forth Road Bridge back in the mid 1970s with a bunch of student friends and even on a sunny day we were almost bent double when we got to the middle of the pedestrian walkway. It fairly blew away the hangovers though! 😉


    1. Thanks, Abbie. Any road closure is a pain as you say. I can only imagine the horrors of something like the bridges in San Francisco being shut down, having driven over a couple of them. We have tiny traffic issues compared to some places.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing like something (bridges, internet, phone lines) being stopped or unavailable to point out our vulnerability in this life. I try not to think about what may be disabled as it scares me! If your country is like ours, it seems those who live on one end of the bridge, work on the the other end! Enjoyed your post again.


    1. Thank you- Yes, Neva. Like many other countries the ‘hubs’ draw in the workers from outside and sometimes that’s across bridges.


  4. I feel for those folks who need to get to the other side and will now find themselves stuck or having to resort to inconvenient measures. I find that I take these things for granted: well-run transportation systems (which is used loosely here since I live in LA with the most clogged freeways in the nation), electricity, and gas until something happens to them. Hope you won’t be too put out by the bridge closure but it sounds like you’ll be OK. Thanks for another thoughtful post, Nancy!


    1. Many will be affected, Sarah, but not me. There have been various measures suggested for getting across the water by other means.


  5. We take for granted all the conveniences that modern technology affords us until we no longer have them. At my school, losing the Internet nearly brings the school to a halt because so much of what we do is web-based now. Email is our primary means of communication and many people, myself included, use the web way more often than we even notice until it’s no longer there.


    1. In some ways i’m glad to have only used computers in my classroom mainly for research purposes. Technology has moved on so much since I stopped in 2008 so I really do sympathise when such things happen, Joe. Plans go totally out the window!


  6. I still remembee this bridge collasping and killing 47 people in 1967. I was 14 at the time. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Bridge
    When Del, my husband was born, his doctor rowed back and forth across the river. After Del’s birth, while crossing the river, the doctor yelled, “A fine German boy was born and he came feets first.” The doctor was German. So sorry about the inconvenience of the bridge repair. Does it effect you directly? Cher’ley


  7. How communities handle things like bridge closings and other obstacles says a lot about the people that reside there. Here in my part of WV the big challenge is often the interstate. Even a small fender bender tends to shut down the road for hours. Years ago getting upset about it won’t change anything or make the traffic move faster.

    Twice last week I was sandwiched in the middle of one of those messes. Since I am on the road a lot I have a plan for these occasions. I open up a bottle of Iced Tea and turn up the radio. When my 20 minute ride home turns into an hour and a half I don’t let it spoil the rest of my day. I am usually just happy my car isn’t part of the tangled mess that is causing the problem.


    1. That’s a very pragmatic response to something you can do nothing about, S.J. Well done you but I’m sure not all are happy bunnies. Road closure because of accidents is much the same but it’s rare to have a bridge closed for so long. Many won’t get to Edinburgh to do their Christmas shopping and they’ll definitely be unhappy bunnies.


  8. We don’t have a lot of bridges in Wyoming, (some, but none I can think of that would cause such disruption as your country is experiencing, Nancy). Like Doris, I grew up along the Mississippi River in the midwestern United States, and we often crossed bridges along it and other rivers. Flooding caused great chaos more than once and bridges had to be rebuilt — headaches for many, that’s for sure. When one truly thinks about it, the technology and major accomplishments humankind has made over the centuries is astounding! And, yet, we become so impatient today when the Internet is “slow” or the microwave doesn’t cook something in 30 seconds! Finicky ones, we humans can be! Great post, Nancy!


    1. Yes, we are indeed, Gayle. Since I wrote the post the south west of Scotland has had major flooding and a few very small bridges have collapsed but they won’t have such a major impact as the longer Forth Road Bridge. Strategies are in place if people must travel and that’s what has to happen now.


  9. When I lived in Berkeley and would go over to San Francisco the inhabitants there disdainfully called the non-SF visitors as bridge and tunnel. I kind of felt that from Edienburgites post.


    1. Tut! Tut! Travis, calling you that. A tunnel would have been useful but till the last 20 years there wasn’t actually enough traffic to merit building a tunnel across between Edinburgh and the Kingdom of Fife. (I’ve been on the bridge between S F and Oakland- think that’s maybe the one you mean?)


  10. Good post Nancy. Although this will be a major inconvenience, I’m sure people will take it in stride and manage their daily lives without it. When I was a kid you could only get from the lower peninsula of Michigan via a ferry. Years later the Mackinac Bridge was constructed and made life much easier for those who had to wok on one side or the other. The hardest thing has been when the bridge is closed due to high winds or construction. Life goes on, it’s an inconvenience but something that doesn’t ruin life, as a whole. I pray things will be back to normal soon.


    1. It’s now a week since the closure, Linda, and as you guess people are finding ways to cope. One of the good things (I think) is that some office workers have been encouraged to work from home, which just might lead to less traffic stress for them in the future if they find working from home is viable.


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