A NEW section of one of Scotland’s busiest motorways is to open to traffic nearly a week ahead of schedule, cutting up to 20 minutes off the journey time between the country’s two biggest cities.
The so-called ‘missing link’ of the M8 is set to open up on Sunday, April 23 on a new seven mile stretch of road will run between Newhouse and the Baillieston area of Glasgow on the drive from Edinburgh.
The eastbound section is expected to open a week later on April 30, acccording to Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown.
The section of road is just one step in the ongoing £500m motorway improvements project with diversions in place since the middle of February to allow construction workers to reach the new M8 motorway with the existing A8 and M8 carriageway. Transport Scotland say that journey times could be cut by around 20 minutes at peak travel times once works are fully completed.
Mr Brown believes the section will help to improve business links and connectivity.
He added: “The new M8 will be a major milestone in what is a massive transport infrastructure project and I’m pleased to say the phased opening will start five days ahead of schedule.”
• READ MORE: Motorists facing weeks of chaos in upgrade of M8
“We are now close to seeing the culmination of three years of construction works and a half a billion pounds worth of investment to improve this vital link between Scotland’s biggest cities.
“This investment will make a tangible difference to our economy, improving business links and connectivity, as well as reducing journey times for road users who rely on this route for part of their daily commute.”
Transport Scotland on the M8/A8 said the diversion was needed to remove 13,000m² of existing carriageway and 40,000m³ of earth to connect the new M8 to the existing M8, which is about 5m higher.
Around 12,000 tonnes of blacktop then had to be laid to complete the seven mile “missing link”.
Graeme Reid, project manager for Transport Scotland, said that commuters should experience an improvement in their journeys.
He said: “While the full benefits of the new M8 will not be realised until completion of all junctions and project roads, commuters between Edinburgh and Glasgow should experience a vast improvement to their journeys between Newhouse and Baillieston interchange.
“When the new M8 opens, pressure on the A8 will ease, allowing the contractor to focus on completing the upgrade of the existing A8 and linking it to the new all-purpose road, which is a continuation of the A8 at Eurocentral.”
All work in the M8, M73 and M74 improvement project is due to be completed by the end of the spring, creating a motorway for the whole journey from Edinburgh to Glasgow for the first time.
It has also included major work at the Raith interchange of the M74.