M74 road test: Before - Bumper to bumper on the slow road to Govan

ON A rain-lashed evening, a week before the M74 extension is due to open, the strain placed upon motorists in Scotland's largest city is plain to see.

Just after 5:30pm, I enter the M8 at Baillieston, to the east of Glasgow, bound for my destination, Govan, in the south side. It is a drive through the main artery of the Dear Green Place which, in terms of distance, comes to less than ten miles and, in theory, should prove a short commute. Suggest as much to any Glaswegian taxi driver, however, and you will receive an earful.

The evening The Scotsman makes the trip, for example, it soon becomes clear the journey will not be swift. Initially, after getting on to the M8, the traffic levels are steady but not overly congested. Given the weather - unforgiving squalls of rain have been battering down all day and show little sign of letting up - most motorists are taking their time, mindful of the surface water on the road.

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That said, I make steady progress, travelling through Easterhouse and Cranhill without any delay. Then, about five minutes after setting out, I encounter the backlog. Just after junction 12 (Stepps), the traffic becomes noticeably heavier, with all three lanes occupied. While the vehicles are not bumper to bumper, and continue to move forward at speeds approaching 30mph, the pace drops significantly.

There is the occasional lorry or bus, but the majority are cars, as commuters head home after a day's work. It is perhaps too late for school traffic, but there are a number of families making journeys. Despite the clogged roads, no-one seems angered by the painfully slow drive, and there is a feeling that, having endured such hardship many times before, most are resigned to their fate.

Only one driver, a middle-aged man at the helm of a blue Mondeo, is sufficiently enraged to beep his horn, chastising a Micra driver who dared to cut inside him at short notice just before the turn off for the A82 to Dumbarton.

The traffic remains heavy and we slow down a little more over the familiar Kingston Bridge bottleneck. Eventually, junction 23 comes into sight, and we turn off. Just over 29 minutes have passed. It has taken a while, but others have doubtless suffered worse on the M8 down the years.

Journey Log

Start time: 5:33pm

Start location: M8 westbound, junction eight (Baillieston)

End location: M8 westbound, junction 23 (Govan)

End time: 6:02pm

Journey time: 29 minutes

Length of journey: 9.5 miles

Worst point: Clogged traffic at junction 12 (Stepps) and Kingston Bridge

Best point: Reaching Stepps with little delay, given the poor weather

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