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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 11:51 GMT
Motorway marks historic birthday
The M8 motorway
The M8 is one of Scotland's busiest roads
The first stretch of the M8, which revolutionised motoring in Scotland in the 1960s, is celebrating its 40th birthday.

It began life in the Harthill area, which was also home to Scotland's first service station.

Separate carriageways replaced the old three-lane road between Glasgow and the capital and heralded the age of commuting by car.

But the road is still not completed, as further improvements are planned.

The M8's development has not kept pace with demand as the road now carries two to three times more traffic than expected.

For most parts of the day it is perfectly adequate for its needs
Jim Barton
Scottish Executive
It is also used by 40-ton trucks it was never designed for.

Jim Barton, director of road operations for the Scottish Executive, said it was important to get the most out of the network.

"When it was built it was carrying 10,000 vehicles a day - roughly - now it's carrying 50,000," he said.

"Even so for most parts of the day it is perfectly adequate for its needs.

"We have plans to upgrade sections of the A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse to motorway standards and those plans we hope to have on the ground in about six years time.

Frustrating delay

"The main aim at the moment is to get the most out of the network we have available to us."

Experts hope it might reach full motorway status in time for its 50th birthday.

Neil Greig
The AA's Neil Greig said there was still work to be done
Neil Greig, of the AA Motoring Trust in Scotland, said that time cannot come soon enough for some drivers.

Mr Greig said: "We are seeing more and more road works, more delays, more congestion and the M8 really does need help to continue into the future."

Motoring journalist Alan Douglas said the project was a work in progress which was taking too long.

He said: "It's an unfinished project which has been built in a piecemeal way over the 40 years and is still unfinished.

"There has been a series of half-measures by politicians and even the last section was a compromise.

"How much more traffic is going to be on the motorway in six years time?"

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