Work to start on £500m M8, M73 and M74 motorway upgrades
Work is set to get underway on a £500m project to upgrade the motorway network in central Scotland.
The Scots Roads Partnership (SRP) will carry out the advance works ahead of signing a contract with Transport Scotland for the full job next month.
The upgrade work will see the six-mile "missing link" completed on the M8 in North Lanarkshire.
Improvements to the Raith Interchange and widening of key sections of the M8, M73 and M74 are also part of the plan.
The work will see upgrading of the M8 between Baillieston and Newhouse to motorway standard.
This will require upgrades to the connections to the M73 motorway at Baillieston and a new junction at Shawhead, which will connect to the A725 East Kilbride road.
Reduced journey times
There will also be new junctions at Eurocentral and Chapelhall.
Improvements to the Raith Interchange near Hamilton in Lanarkshire include realignment of the A725.
There will be an underpass for the A725 and bridges carrying the Raith roundabout.
The improvements are expected to cut journey times by up to 18 minutes for the busiest sections of the M8.
The £500m contract will see SRP - a consortium of Ferrovial Agroman, Lagan, Amey, Cintra, Meridiam and Uberior - carry out construction work and then maintain the roads over a 30-year period.
The project is being funded through the Scottish government's Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) model.
Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown said the NPD agreement in place had driven down estimated contractual costs by more than £100m.
He said: "The motorway link between the country's two largest cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh) is absolutely pivotal to Scotland's sustainable economic growth and 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.
"Completing the M74 directly supported 900 construction jobs - the large majority of which were filled by workers from the local area - and we expect this project will deliver similar benefits to the local economy.
"The project will also provide sustainable long-term employment opportunities throughout the 30 year operation and maintenance on these key routes."