Glasgow & West Scotland

M74 extension: 'Marked difference for road users'

Map of new M74 extension (from Transport Scotland)
Image caption Transport Scotland said the new motorway extension would improve journey times into and around Glasgow

Drivers will get their first chance to use the M74 extension when the five mile stretch of motorway opens to traffic on Tuesday.

Critics have warned it will cause more air and noise pollution and blight the lives of those living along the route.

Here, Transport Scotland's director of major transport infrastructure projects, Ainslie McLaughlin, explains the difference it could make to road users.

The M74 Completion has been a remarkable project to be involved in - from the complexity and scale of the engineering challenges of building a major motorway through Scotland's largest city, through to the fascinating industrial history of the area uncovered by the pre-construction M74 Dig archaeology work.

Over 100 businesses had to be acquired and relocated; there was widespread ground contamination resulting from over a century of heavy industry that had to be cleaned up, together with the physical challenges of building over busy city streets and the main West Coast Mainline railway between Glasgow and London.

In many ways the project is more comparable to building new railways through central London than a typical new motorway going through a rural environment.

For the regular user of Scotland's motorway network, the difference will be marked. The M74 north from the English border will no longer end abruptly at a roundabout at Fullarton Road.

Instead it will rise up over the Clyde at Auchenshuggle and traverse the southside across areas such as Rutherglen, the Gorbals, Polmadie, Port Eglinton and meet the M8 at the Kingston Bridge where drivers can continue west towards Renfrewshire and Inverclyde or south on the M77 towards East Renfrewshire and Ayrshire.

Junctions at Fullarton, Cambuslang, Polmadie Road and Kingston will provide local connections with Scotland's motorway network - which will be further enhanced with the completion of the M80 Steps to Haggs upgrade in a few months time.

The M74 completion will improve journey times and reduce traffic congestion on roads across Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.

Image caption Driver travelling north from the English border will be among those taking advantage of the new road

For example, we anticipate 20,000 vehicles coming off the congested M8 at the Kingston Bridge every day - making a huge difference to businesses and individual drivers alike.

The average journey time between Hamilton, in South Lanarkshire, and Glasgow Airport is now expected to be cut from around 30 minutes to nearer 18 minutes.

Congestion on local roads, such as Rutherglen Main Street, will be cut by up to 15%. These benefits can be seen on the traffic page on our website.

It will help grow Scotland's economy by improving transport links in the west of Scotland, as well as to other parts of Scotland and to the UK more generally.

We think they new extension will provide a real catalyst for economic recovery and job creation.

Enormous potential

It has already supported the hard-pressed construction industry during the recent economic downturn. At its peak, construction has sustained around 900 construction jobs since 2008.

Image caption The M74 Dig aimed to uncover many sites of archaeological and historic importance along the route

The project will now bring new jobs, estimated to be as many as 20,000, particularly along the route, but also across the west of Scotland.

The scheme also unlocks enormous potential for further urban regeneration programmes, many of which are already in development.

Last week, we announced the Clyde Gateway regeneration company was concluding developer deals for a new business park at Junction 2a, bringing 700 jobs to the area.

It will help with the regeneration of the south and east of Glasgow, Rutherglen and Cambuslang, and play a key role in Scotland's delivery of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.

The extension will also improve air quality in the Glasgow City Centre Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) by removing traffic and congestion from the M8 Kingston Bridge.

And the M74 completion will improve road safety by reducing road accidents by 25 to 35 each year on average in the 20 years after opening.

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