M8 upgrade to go ahead after widow loses house row

The M8 at Baillieston Interchange. Picture: PA
The M8 at Baillieston Interchange. Picture: PA
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AN ELDERLY widow has lost her battle to save the house she has lived in for nearly 50 years from demolition to make way for completion of the Edinburgh-Glasgow motorway, The Scotsman has learned.

Christina Barrie, 82, was evicted from her farmhouse last month to make way for an upgrade of the A8 to become part of the M8.

The news emerged as transport minister Keith Brown said construction would start at the end of the year, with the contract being awarded to the Scottish Roads Partnership consortium of Amey and Lagan.

The £415 million scheme involves a new seven-mile section of the M8 between Baillieston and Newhouse in North Lanarkshire, along with widening 11 miles of the nearby M73 and M74, and improvements to the Raith interchange on the M74.

The new stretch of the M8 will be a combination of three and four lanes and is expected to cut rush-hour journeys by up to 18 minutes. The work, which has been delayed by four years by lack of cash, is due to be completed in spring 2017.

Mrs Barrie, who has been in poor health, is the only person to lose her house for the project. Her family has claimed she has suffered “added government pressure and bullying tactics”.

The compulsory purchase of Braehead farmhouse, near Bargeddie, was confirmed in May and the Scottish Government took possession in July.

The widow continued the fight she and her husband had waged until his death last year, aged 89. It is believed the stress of the situation affected his health.

The couple, who had been offered £400,000 to move, had lived at the farm since 1967, from where Mr Barrie ran a haulage business for 30 years.

They spent much of their savings on an unsuccessful challenge to the scheme at a public inquiry five years ago.

Mrs Barrie’s daughter, Christine, said: “Having been worn down by government demands, my mother accepted their ‘offer’.

“She had no choice or they would have taken a court order to remove her from the farm.”

Uddingston and Bellshill Labour MSP Michael McMahon said: “It’s better late than never, but this announcement is really nothing for the SNP to shout about. Contrary to what they’ve said, the delays in getting this work done have been caused by nothing more than the SNP’s stubbornness in refusing to use PFI contracts.”

Neil Greig, policy director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “At last, a full motorway link between Scotland’s two main cities takes a giant leap forward. This project has been on the drawing board for decades and it’s great news to see it finally getting a start date.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said “These major upgrades are long overdue and will provide much needed additional capacity.”

Mr Brown said: “This project will boost the nation’s economy by improving connections for business across Scotland and will directly support the hard-pressed construction industry.”