After decades of planning, the upgrade of the A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse to motorway is finally under construction. The scheme is no longer a simple upgrade of the gap in the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It now also includes an upgrade of Raith Interchange to provide an underpass, the widening of the M8, M73 & M74 between Easterhouse and Hamilton and a remodelling of the M74 J3a Daldowie.
The scheme is due for completion in 2017 and will vastly improve journey times through this important transport corridor in North Lanarkshire. This page outlines the history behind the scheme, including a previously aborted upgrade, as well as considering the additional works which were combined into the scheme.
LOCATION: M8, M73, M74 - Glasgow, North & South Lanarkshire
OPENING DATE: Under Construction - Projected 2017
DESIGNER: Mouchel Fairhurst (Specimen) Amey RPS (Detailed)
CONTRACTOR: Ferrovial Lagan (as part of Scottish Roads Partnership DBFO)
LENGTH: 15 miles (entire DBFO network)
TOTAL SCHEME COST: £500 Million (includes 30 year maintenance period)
MISC: Contract let to Scottish Roads Partnership in February 2014.
The works comprise three distinct sections: the upgrade of the A8 between Baillieston & Newhouse to motorway, including the provision of a parallel distributor road; the construction of an underpass of the M74 at Raith Interchange for A725 traffic; the widening of the M8 between junctions 10 and 8 eastbound, the M73 between junctions 1 and 2 and the M74 between junctions 3A and 6. A new entry slip will be constructed for southbound traffic at Daldowie.
The design, build, finance and operate contract includes a thirty year maintenance requirement which will be undertaken by Amey who are also a part of the Scottish Roads Partnership consortium.
The A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse was dualled and grade separated in a £1.5 million Scottish Office contract in the early 1960s. It was the first scheme constructed in an effort modernise the notoriously unsafe route between Glasgow and Edinburgh. In 1963 it was announced that the entire route between the two cities was to be upgraded, and that it would be built along a new line. The Baillieston to Newhouse section was effectively at the centre of these plans. By the late 1960s it had been decided that the new route would be muilt to motorway standards leaving this six mile A-class road as a gap.
Proposals to upgrade this "gap" to motorway status were initially developed in the mid 1970s with construction intended to follow on the completion of the M8 Monkland Motorway to Baillieston Interchange. Strathclyde Regional Council, in its 1978-82 transport plan, proposed to upgrade the route to Bargeddie junction by 1981. The spending cuts of the incoming Conservative Government put the project (and many others) on hold. The scheme was resurrected in the late 1980s with an “offline” upgrade proposal which included widening the existing motorway as far as junction 5 at Shotts. This passed its statutory processes and was to be financed by PFI. A number of advanced works were undertaken to stabilise ground in the vicinity of the project with Strathclyde Region and its successor North Lanarkshire Council developing an outline design. The project was abandoned at the tender stage in 1997 by the incoming Labour Government who ordered a moratorium on all road building subject to a review.
The findings of the Strategic Roads Review were published in November 1999 by the Scottish Executive who outlined two possible options – “online” and “offline” upgrades. It was announced that a multi-modal corridor study would be carried out to decide upon the best solution. This reported in 2003 and recommended a partial “offline” upgrade of three and four lane motorway with parallel distributor roads to cater for a large number of local trips. New junctions were recommended at Shawhead, Eurocentral, Chapelhall and Newhouse. It was recommended that the M74/A725 Raith Interchange be upgraded in conjunction with this scheme to provide an underpass to ease chronic congestion.
An upgrade of M74 Raith Interchange was first mooted by the Scottish Office in the early 1990s. The junction had become increasingly congested following the completion of the East Kilbride Expressway in the early 1980s. It was generally accepted that an underpass of the M74 for A725 traffic would provided, similar to schemes progressed at M8/M9 Newbridge and at Gogar. Several options, including some with free flow links from the M74, were studied in the mid-2000s and the final design was published in 2007.