THE cost of finally completing the M8 Edinburgh-Glasgow motorway and upgrading two others has been cut by £105 million to £500m, transport minister Keith Brown announced today.
He said a new six-mile section of the M8 and improvements to the nearby M73 and M74 just outside Glasgow would be cheaper thanks to “robust competitive dialogue” with the winning bidder for the work.
Construction is due to start in February or March and completed in Spring 2017.
The Scotsman revealed two years ago that the finishing date had been put back by four years because a lack of cash.
The scheme will now become the SNP Scottish Government’s largest project under its non-profit-distributing (NPD) model, under which ministers pay back the cost to private financiers over 30 years.
The cost of the scheme comprises an estimated £310m for construction, which has been reduced from £415m, and some £180m for other aspects, such as land acquisition.
However, despite the saving, the total cost is higher than Transport Scotland’s previous estimate of £279-335m.
Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland said last year the increase included “higher underlying cost estimates as well as higher allowances for the costs of inflation”.
Scot Roads Partnership Project, comprising Ferrovial Agroman and Lagan, won the contract last August.
The work involves a new section of the M8 between Baillieston and Newhouse in North Lanarkshire to replace the A8, cutting peak time journeys by up to 18 minutes.
It also includes improvements to the Raith interchange on the M74 at junction five, where the A725 provides links to the M8 and M77, along with widening of 11 miles of the M73 and M74.
Mr Brown said: “The motorway link between the country’s two largest cities is absolutely pivotal to Scotland’s sustainable economic growth.
“The improvements made by this project will drive significant economic benefits for businesses and improve road safety and accessibility for road users the length and breadth of the country.
“This project shows that this NPD procurement process has driven down costs - around £105 million in this case - and will continue to deliver long-term benefits for the taxpayer.
“In order to deliver the project at the earliest opportunity, I am also pleased to announce that Transport Scotland has entered into a pre-start works agreement with the contractor.
“This will allow advance works to progress without delay with the contract expected to be signed during February.”