£500m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project Reaches Major Milestone
Transport Scotland is managing the biggest ever package of improvements to the country’s transport networks.
Construction of one of Scotland’s largest infrastructure projects has reached a major milestone as the first works on the main routes get underway next month as part of the upgrading of Central Scotland’s motorway network.
The £500m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project represents a significant investment in Scotland’s trunk roads, and aims to tackle congestion problems on the A8/M8, M73, M74 and at key junctions including Raith (M74) and Shawhead (A725/A8).
Roads users are being warned to expect some disruption as traffic restrictions come into force across the project roads from 20th March 2015, and are being advised to plan their journeys accordingly, especially during peak times.
To ensure the safety of road users and the workforce on the road network, traffic management will be introduced on the main trunk roads. This will include the introduction of a general speed limit of 50mph; reduced locally where required to maintain safety and the installation of safety cameras to enforce the limit.
Rail works to Edinburgh Glasgow Rail Improvement Programme (EGIP) will also get underway during the summer months. This will include the closure of Winchburgh Tunnel from 13th June until 27th July to allow major engineering works to be carried out during the summer months when transport networks which are traditionally quieter and less likely to be further impacted by weather events.
These schemes will boost Scotland’s economy by improving connections between the commercial centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh and beyond.
Graeme Reid, Project Sponsor for Transport Scotland, said:
“This major infrastructure investment will bring significant benefits to Scotland and deliver not only substantial economic savings to businesses and individuals through improved transport links, particularly between the commercial centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It will also improve journey time reliability, delivering congestion cutting measures and make our roads even safer, benefitting communities, businesses and the environment.
"One year in, we have reached a pivotal point in this three year project, involving traffic management measures which are likely to cause some disruption to road users, especially at peak times.
“The biggest challenge on a project of this scale is to keep the 100,000 vehicles that use these key routes every day moving and to ensure disruption to road users is minimised as far as is practically possible.
“The installation of safety cameras is a tried and tested mechanism that improves safety for both road users and the workforce during what will be an extremely busy period in terms of construction. Based on our experience of the recently completed M80, we know that they can also encourage a steady traffic flow on all routes.”
When complete, the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project will significantly reduce congestion across the central Scotland motorway network, as well as improve the travel time reliability between the main route of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Road users travelling between the two cities will benefit by shaving almost 20 minutes off the daily commute; which equates to an annual saving of a week spent behind the wheel commuting.
Scottish Roads Partnership, the consortium responsible for financing, designing, constructing and operating the project roads, has recommended the installation of safety cameras in line with the significant increase in construction works scheduled for Spring 2015.
Backed by Police Scotland, the first traffic restrictions and safety cameras will be implemented along the M74 northbound and southbound from Junction 6 Hamilton to Junction 3A Daldowie, with three narrow lanes in operation to allow the construction of a new lane and hard shoulder along this stretch of the motorway.
In addition, major improvements at Raith Junction will require complex traffic management including speed restrictions, temporary lane closures and diversions, to allow excavation works to start on the construction of the A725 underpass below the existing roundabout. The new underpass will link the Bellshill Bypass and the East Kilbride Expressway (A725) and create a new route for traffic, cutting out the heavily congested Raith Junction.
Two lanes will remain operational in each direction across all project roads during peak times, although traffic management and speed restrictions will be in place.
A spokesperson for Strathclyde Safety Camera Partnership, said:
"Previous experience of major improvement works on this scale has shown that safety cameras have been extremely successful in encouraging motorists to stay within the speed limits.
“The cameras are being installed on the A8/M8, M73 and M74 to ensure drivers slow down for the benefit of everyone's safety during this busy period of construction."
Gordon MacKay, Head of South Lanarkshire Council’s Roads and Transportation Services, said:
“The Council has for many years been supportive of the need for improvements at Raith Interchange and on the adjacent motorway network.
“We recognise the scale of the engineering challenges involved in the current works and the inevitable consequence of some disruption to normal travel patterns particularly during critical phases of the project.
“To date most of the works have been remote from the existing carriageways, but we are now approaching a stage at which significant restrictions will be required on existing roads.
“We would urge all road users to allow additional time for their journeys and refer to the Traffic Scotland website for details of forthcoming temporary traffic management arrangements.”
Martin Reid, Director of the Road Haulage Association for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said:
“The Road Haulage Association welcomes the completion of the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh and we look forward to the industry enjoying the greater efficiencies the improvements will bring. An integrated transport network is key to growing the Scottish economy as is a greater connectivity between our major cities and their business communities. The completion of the M8 goes a long way to improving that essential connectivity”.
The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project began in February 2014 and is scheduled for completion by Spring 2017.
Details of the traffic management programme will be available on the Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland websites in advance of any major works commencing.
- The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements will upgrade the core of Scotland’s motorway network and will boost Scotland’s economy by improving connections between the commercial centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh and beyond.
- Work began on the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project in February 2014, and is scheduled for completion by Spring 2017.
- Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP) is the consortium responsible for designing, financing and constructing the Project roads as well as operating and maintaining them for 30 years.
- In developing traffic management proposals, liaison takes place between the contractor and all partner organisations including Local Authorities, Police Scotland and the Safety Camera Partnership.
- The Central Scotland trunk roads network will remain operational during construction with 100,000 vehicles using the Project roads on a daily basis.
ScotRail and Network Rail are now at an advanced stage of preparing a comprehensive communications plan which will launch three months ahead of the works to ensure passengers are well informed of changes to their usual journey.
For further information on the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project visit the Transport Scotland website www.transportscotland.gov.uk/m8m73m74 and for the latest traffic management information, click on ‘Traffic Management’ or visit the Traffic Scotland website www.trafficscotland.org.