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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 22:38 GMT
M8 'missing link' detail set out
The Baillieston interchange can be a bottleneck at busy periods

Thousands of people in the central belt have been given details about a scheme costing up to 180m to complete the "missing link" on the M8.

The Scottish Executive has sent out 25,000 brochures explaining the plan for the section between Baillieston in Glasgow and Newhouse.

The 10km stretch of the A8 is the only non-motorway section of the trunk road network between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Upgrading work could be complete by 2011, according to the document.

More than 75,000 vehicles use the Baillieston to Newhouse road daily. About 45,000 use the A725, which crosses the A8 every day, all of which cause major congestion at peak times.

Home deliveries

The colour brochure, which includes a map showing the proposed route of the new, upgraded road, has been delivered to homes, businesses and councils along the route. It is also being put in libraries.

The consultation exercise is designed to allow anyone affected by the plans or with an interest in them to respond before 27 January, 2006.

The proposals are aimed at separating "strategic" east-west traffic from north-south traffic making more local journeys. They comprise:

  • Stretches of two and three-lane motorways
  • 10km of dual two-lane all-purpose road incorporating 4.8km of the existing A8
  • Three new motorway junctions at Shawhead, Eurocentral and Chapelhall
  • Two amended motorway junctions at Baillieston and Newhouse
  • Two new railway bridges
  • 25 new road structures.

The timetable for the project will continue in early 2006 with the publication of the orders confirming the line for the M8 along with draft compulsory purchase orders.

A public inquiry could take place late next year. Progress beyond that depends on the outcome of any inquiry but the contract could be awarded in late 2008 with construction finished in early 2011.

The proposals, which have been drawn up by Mouchel Fairhurst and are estimated to cost between 150m and 180m, will avoid about 100 accidents across the network, it is predicted.

Delays reduced

Benefits include a reduction in existing delays of up to four minutes on the A8 and of up to eight minutes on the A725 and at the Shawhead junction.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The construction work will substantially improve the capacity and safety of the junctions including those with the Bellshill Bypass, the Eurocentral development and at Chapelhall for the Ravenscraig development.

"The works will provide benefits to all road users and permit substantial commercial development in Lanarkshire."

M8 missing link brochure
The brochure shows the preferred route of the new road

Neil Greig, of the AA in Scotland, welcomed the publication of the new road details.

He said there had been concern in the roads lobbying community that the recent addition of hard shoulders along the Baillieston to Newhouse stretch would be regarded by the executive as sufficient upgrading.

"We've been campaigning for a proper motorway between Edinburgh and Glasgow for decades and this is the missing link," he said, "not just in terms of congestion and benefits it will bring but in road safety as well."

It was important that Scotland's new transport agency, which comes into being on 1 January, 2006, secured the funding to ensure the project was completed as soon as possible, he added.

Tom Hart, of Transform Scotland, which campaigns for a reduction in the use of cars and lorries, said he had no major objections to the proposals.

He added: "We have always argued that it has to be part of a package where you encourage people to shift to public transport."

'Skewed thinking'

Patrick Harvie, Green Glasgow MSP, said the brochure "epitomises the executive's completely illogical and skewed thinking on traffic levels and transport".

The new road would "accommodate" high levels of traffic rather than tackle the problem at source by reducing them.

"Whilst an upgrading of this route is not nearly as bad as big new roads like the M74 - building new roads to accomodate growing traffic levels only generates more traffic and more congestion and pollution," he said.

"We should be doing all we can to improve road safety, as far as protecting the environment goes, planting a few shrubs is, quite frankly, a joke given that the executive's transport policy will bring more cars, more climate-changing emissions, as well as disruption, noise and pollution for local residents."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See reaction to the plans



SEE ALSO:
Eurocentral revamp given go-ahead
13 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Long-awaited road upgrade begins
27 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Ravenscraig objection thrown out
30 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Motorway marks historic birthday
19 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Roads guru calls for M8 toll
25 Jan 04 |  Scotland


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