M8 'missing link' officially opened
The newest section of Scotland's busiest motorway has been officially opened by the first minister.
The seven-mile link road between Newhouse and Baillieston was completed in April and opened to traffic then.
It means the entire stretch between Edinburgh and Glasgow is now motorway.
It was part of a £500m M8, M73 and M74 improvements project aimed at tackling congestion problems in central Scotland and cutting journey times by up to 20 minutes.
New analysis by Transport Scotland indicated vehicles were now travelling along the M8 at an average speed of almost 70mph, even during the busiest periods.
Speaking at the Maxim Business Park at Eurocentral, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the improvements and additional road capacity would ensure the economy had room to grow.
She said: "The M8 is a vital link in the central belt and this newly completed section will help connect people to business, leisure and education opportunities and also creates a better environment for companies to do business.
"Businesses are already reporting a journey time saving of up to 20 minutes travel between Scotland's biggest cities and a similar saving for those using Raith junction.
"With the completion of this project, and three others others - the Queensferry crossing, the first section of the A9 dualling and the Aberdeen bypass - by next spring, more than 250km of new roads will have been completed in the last 10 years - representing a total investment in construction of £2.81bn."
Economy Secretary Keith Brown told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that the new M8 motorway section and a "hugely innovative engineering solution" at the Raith Interchange would benefit Scotland's economy and road users.
He said it could contribute more than £1bn to Scotland's economy through quicker movement of people and goods, and improved road safety could see a reduction of more than 100 accidents each year.
During construction, the project provided training and employment to more than 8,000 workers.
It is expected to provide long-term employment opportunities for about 60 full-time staff.
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said the project that would have "huge, lasting impact for travel across the country and beyond".