New M74 Raith Interchange Pioneers Digitised Approach to Road Construction in Scotland

The UK’s top Civil Engineer, Professor Tim Broyd, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) visited the new Raith Junction yesterday (Wednesday) to see how engineers are harnessing new digital technology to deliver a £500m infrastructure improvement project near Glasgow.

The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is one of the first major road projects in Scotland to pioneer the use of BIM, a cutting-edge 3D technology which is set to revolutionise civil engineering, Transport Scotland has revealed.

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Building Information Modelling (BIM) uses digital technology, more commonly seen in the gaming industry, to help design, build, maintain and manage construction projects more effectively throughout their lifecycle.  

Intelligent 3D models of new infrastructure, which include everything from the underground location of utility services to the type of street lighting installed – even the wattage of a bulb to be replaced – is all available at the touch of button using BIM.

Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP), the consortium delivering the £500 million motorway upgrade on behalf of Transport Scotland, and its main contractor Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture, has implemented BIM on one of the most complex and challenging parts of the project – the construction of the new Raith Interchange, Junction 5 of the M74 in South Lanarkshire.

BIM technology includes clash detection analysis, time-lapse visualisations and many other features which facilitate project collaboration and boost co-ordination. It saves time and money, while improving safety, accuracy, reliability and efficiency.

Raul Pascual, Project Manager for Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture, described BIM as the biggest technological advance in the construction industry in more than 100 years.

Mr Pascual, said:

“Until now, the construction industry has been building bridges and roads in almost the same way as it was done a century ago when concrete and steel construction was developed.

“BIM is already changing the way we work, allowing greater co-ordination and collaboration at the very earliest stage of a project. Construction engineers can watch and interact as the designer is designing a new road layout, while the maintenance contractor can use BIM to pinpoint a streetlight, know when it was installed and when the bulb needs to be changed – the possibilities are endless.

“BIM is a fantastic management tool that allows engineers to analyse complex infrastructures and to explain construction methodologies and validate design. It also has the added benefit of bringing finished products to life as a 3D model which is extremely beneficial when outlining major infrastructure develops to stakeholders before building has even started. As an industry, we are very excited about BIM.”

To date, BIM has largely been used in the construction of buildings, but the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project in Scotland’s central belt is pioneering its use on a major roads project.

Professor Broyd met with the construction team and Transport Scotland representatives on site to view the progress of the new Raith Interchange and praised the engineers for embracing BIM in this particularly challenging section of the project.

Professor Tim Broyd, said:

“A digital mind-set will take our industry to the next level.

“Here at Raith Interchange it is improving communication and coordination between design and construction teams and resulting in better, more resilient infrastructure and saving time and money. Better communication with road users and local communities is another key benefit.”

The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is one of four pathfinder projects being monitored by the Scottish Futures Trust, an independent company, established by the Scottish Government with a responsibility for delivering value for money across public sector infrastructure investment.

As such, the experience of using BIM as part of the construction of the new Raith Junction, will offer valuable experience and lessons learned prior to the implementation of BIM elsewhere.

Graeme Reid, project sponsor for Transport Scotland said:

“The new Raith Junction was selected by Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture as the area in which to trial BIM as it is the most complex part of the project. The engineers have the challenge of constructing the underpass below the water table of the nearby River Clyde in this location as well as relocating a significant number of underground utilities.

“BIM has been instrumental in the success of the construction to date and Transport Scotland is committed to supporting the construction industry to deliver greater efficiencies through the design, construction and operational stages of a project, through the use of BIM.”

Some key benefits of BIM that will enhance engineering and future infrastructure projects include:

  • Reduced risk due to greater visibility and collaboration of design and construction
  • Reduced errors on site due to design clash detection on the virtual model
  • Improved safety by replicating construction methodology on the virtual model
  • Reduced information loss between project phases, ensuring the capture and handover of full asset information to the Operations and Maintenance phase.

Mr Pascual, added:

“Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture wants to promote innovation within the industry. In feeding back our experience of using BIM at Raith to the Scottish Futures Trust, we want to ensure lessons can be learned. We’re committed to highlighting the benefits of BIM, its pros and cons, the costs generated and saved, with the aim of providing an overview of what the industry can expect.

“From our experience, the biggest benefit of using BIM is the time it saves and its accuracy, both of which are extremely important in construction.

“For example, where a design is on paper in the traditional method, any clashes may not be discovered until we’re on the ground, at which point work stops and we have to go back to the design stage and start again. A simple task could be delayed by a month, however, with BIM we can see any potential issues almost immediately at the design stage.”

The Scottish Futures Trust’s BIM Delivery Group has launched the Scottish BIM Implementation Plan to promote engagement with the industry and encourage the adoption of BIM across the entire public sector. The objective of the Scottish Government is that where appropriate, construction projects across the public sector in Scotland adopt a BIM level 2 approach by April 2017.

Paul Dodd, associate director of the Scottish Futures Trust, said:

“The Scottish BIM pathfinder projects are designed to capture lessons across a variety of sectors and project types.

“The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvement Project offers a unique opportunity to monitor and capture lessons in how BIM is implemented for a large and complex infrastructure project which is linear in nature.

“The Scottish BIM Implementation Plan seeks to support the wider Public Sector in the adoption of BIM Level 2 from April 2017. The lessons from this project will offer a unique case study to support future infrastructure projects which adopt BIM Level 2.”

Other high profile projects in the UK where BIM has been implemented include the Thames Tideway, Crossrail, Northern Line Extension and Heathrow Terminal 2.


The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is upgrading the core of Scotland’s motorway network and will boost Scotland’s economy by improving connections between the commercial centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and beyond.

Scottish Roads Partnership, with its main contractors Ferrovial Lagan and Amey, is the company responsible for delivering the £500m investment project in Scotland’s trunk road network for Transport Scotland. The project aims to tackle congestion problems on the A8/M8, M73, M74 and at key junctions, including Raith (M74/A725) and Shawhead (A725/A8).

The benefits of the investment will improve journey times during peak periods, improve connectivity, journey time reliability and road safety across the Central Scotland motorway network. The project will also help promote sustainable economic growth by improving access to facilities and employment areas.

Published 28 Nov 2016 Tags