Cabinet Secretary announces new Raith junction to open
Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, today (Tuesday 14 February) announced the official opening of the new Raith Underpass, at Junction 5 of the M74.
Following a complex and challenging, three-year construction programme to dramatically improve the heavily congested junction near Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, the new A725 underpass, which runs below the M74 motorway, will open to traffic for the first time in the early hours of Thursday morning (16 February).
Mr Brown, said: “The opening of the new underpass at Raith is a major and significant milestone in this massive transport infrastructure project.
“The Scottish Government is investing almost half a billion pounds to improve Central Scotland’s road network. This investment will make a tangible difference to road users, alleviating the traffic congestion that has been a historic problem at Raith, and improving journey times through the junction by up to 15 minutes.
“The new underpass, and the strategic road network to which it links, will be a considerable benefit to commuters and businesses right across Scotland.”
Fifty years on since Raith Junction in South Lanarkshire first opened to traffic, the video and fly-through gives road users a first glimpse inside the underpass ahead of its opening to traffic.
Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP) began construction of the £500m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project on behalf of Transport Scotland in February 2014, upgrading the A8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh to complete the ‘missing link’. In addition, major improvements got underway on the M73, M74, and A725, and the strategic junctions which connect these three routes – the most significant of which is Raith.
Formally known as Bothwellhaugh Interchange, the improvements to the new junction include the creation of a 560m-long, 35 metre wide underpass below the existing roundabout and the M74 – the main arterial route between Scotland and England.
Consisting of more than 1600 concrete and steel piles of up to 25m in length, the underpass will provide a free-flow link for traffic between the Bellshill Bypass and the East Kilbride Expressway, alleviating congestion on the roundabout which has been struggling to cope with the 75,000 vehicles that use the junction on a daily basis.
SRP has also constructed three new bridges to carry the motorway and local traffic over the new underpass, separating the traffic on the A725 from that using the M74.
In addition, two new footbridges have been installed to the north and south of the roundabout and once complete will create a safe access route over the busy junction between Bothwell and Strathclyde Country Park. These footbridges are part of 16km of new cycle paths and pedestrian walkways across the entire project, which will provide much improved accessibility and safety by segregating pedestrians and cyclists from motorists, and link communities to places of work and recreation which until now have been cut off by the motorway network.
Graeme Reid, Project Manager for the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project, said: “The creation of the Raith underpass and the surrounding local roads network has been the most technically complex and challenging part of the project.
“Not only has SRP had to keep the traffic moving through the junction whilst carrying out this major feat of engineering, they have had to overcome a significant technical challenge – the high groundwater caused by the junction’s close proximity to the River Clyde.
“Approximately 200,000 cubic metres of earth has been excavated to create the underpass . In addition, as the site sits below the level of the river, the creation of 40 pumping wells operating 24/7 was essential to drain groundwater and allow construction to progress.”
Graeme added: “Whilst finishing works will be ongoing at Raith following the opening of the underpass, we would like to thank road users for their continued patience as we enter the final stages of construction to tie in the new roads to the existing infrastructure. As ever, we are working with the contractor to open roads to traffic as soon as they become available.”
A video highlighting the benefits of the Raith interchange underpass and featuring an interview with Economy Sectretary, Keith Brown is available here.
The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is on schedule to open to traffic in Spring 2017, and will improve journey times and boost Scotland’s economy by improving connections between the commercial centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh and beyond.
The improvements at Raith will segregate the A725 through traffic from the M74 traffic using the roundabout, reducing the volume of traffic on the roundabout by more than half.
Road users can expect to shave approximately 20 minutes of their journeys along the A8/M8 corridor between Glasgow and Edinburgh and approximately 15 minutes through Raith Interchange at Junction 5 on the M74 once the full scheme is complete.
The Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan is already delivering major infrastructure improvements, with projects worth almost £6 billion currently under construction.
The Scottish Government’s total investment in motorways and trunk roads has risen from £830 million in 2016-17 to £997 million, an increase of 17.9%.
The Scottish Government’s investment in trunk road maintenance supports the delivery of our three key strategic outcomes for transport – improved journey times, reduced emissions to tackle climate change and improve air quality and health, and improved accessibility and affordability.
The old Whistleberry Toll roundabout which linked Raith roundabout to the East Kilbride Expressway has been replaced by a new ‘T Junction’ with a new slip road to Bothwell and Hamilton and a dedicated slip road to access the M74 northbound from Junction 5.
The improvement works will also widen the existing M74 by creating 9km of four lane carriageway between Junction 6, Hamilton and Junction 3A Daldowie.
The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is on schedule to open to traffic in Spring 2017. Information on project wide traffic management can be found at http://www.transport.gov.scot/m8/m8m73m74/traffic-management. The A8 at Baillieston will be diverted for approximately 10 weeks from Friday 17th February, with information available at http://www.transport.gov.scot/a8diversion with the press release found here: http://www.transport.gov.scot/news/major-works-m8a8-complete-%E2%80%98missing-link%E2%80%99.