New M8 bridge lifted into place near Bellshill
A large bridge has been lifted into place across a North Lanarkshire river as part of a £500m project to upgrade Scotland's motorway network.
Nine pairs of 3m (10ft) high and 77m (253ft) long steel beams, each weighing 200 tonnes, were put into place above the North Calder Water, near Bellshill.
A 1,350 tonne crane - the largest of its type in the UK - was used.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf described it as "a challenging feat of engineering".
Video footage showing the construction of the bridge has just been released by Transport Scotland.
The bridge is part of major works to upgrade Shawhead Junction. It will carry traffic on the new M8 over the North Calder Water to the south of the existing A8.
As one of the widest structures of the project, the new bridge will carry three lanes of traffic in each direction, alongside new on and off-slip roads, linking the M8 to the A725 both north and southbound.
The crane used was 90m (295ft) high and required two smaller cranes - a 750 tonne and a 200 tonne crane - to build it.
Transport Scotland said the placement of the beams marked a significant milestone in the progress of the project.
Mr Yousaf said: "This challenging feat of engineering is evidence of the Scottish government's substantial commitment to invest in Scotland's trunk road infrastructure and upgrade the existing A8 to motorway standard.
"This complex project presents its own unique challenge to upgrade Scotland's busiest trunk roads, whilst minimising disruption to the 100,000 vehicles using these routes every day.
"Once complete, The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project will significantly reduce congestion across the central Scotland motorway network, and improve travel time reliability on the main route between Glasgow and Edinburgh."
Travel time reduction
It is estimated that the improvements will result in travel times between Glasgow and Edinburgh being cut by 20 minutes at peak times.
They will also ease congestion significantly on existing routes.
Dario Saavedra, construction manager for contractor Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture, said the beam installation took nine days to complete.
"The beam lift was a complex piece of engineering and an important step towards completion of this impressive project," he said.
Graeme Reid, project sponsor for Transport Scotland, said: "The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects currently under way in Scotland, has already generated £226m worth of investment in the economy through sub-contracts, and is providing employment to over 1,000 people."