Motorists in Scotland can now shave up to 20 minutes from their journey times after the £500 million M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project was officially opened.
It is hoped that the project will help tackle congestion problems in central Scotland and it represents the first part of a combined £1.7 billion investment by Transport Scotland in the roads network.
Vehicles are now travelling along the M8 at an average speed of almost 70mph, even during peak times, according to new analysis by Transport Scotland.
Scotland’s economy is set to benefit to the tune of more than £1 billion as a result of the improved journey times, with stronger connections for businesses between Edinburgh and Glasgow and beyond.
Road safety should be heightened too with reduced traffic on local roads predicted to avoid more than 100 accidents per year and spark more than £118 million in accident savings over a 30-year period.
More than 8,000 people worked on site constructing the project, amounting 6.5 million man hours. Around 2.5 million sq m of new road pavement has been laid and 43 new structures have been built, including 15 new road bridges and another two for rail lines.
This isn’t the last of Scotland’s major road upgrades either. By spring 2018, no less than 175km of new and upgraded roads will have been delivered in Scotland over a 12-month period, including more than 61km of motorway and 75km of dual-carriageway.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon, who officially opened the project, commented: “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.
“With the completion of this project, and three 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 £2.81 billion.”
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, went on to say that connectivity between Scotland’s two biggest cities was vitally important for trade.
“The M8-M73-M74 road network is a key link for people commuting to Glasgow, with shorter journey times a real benefit to businesses and the economy,” he commented.
Ben Robb, brand manager at Dieselink, added: “Congratulations to Transport Scotland for completing such a massive project. It is sure to have a huge, lasting impact for travel across the country and beyond.”