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Last Updated: Monday, 27 June, 2005, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Long-awaited road upgrade begins
The new road will ease congestion on the Forth Road Bridge
Initial work has begun on upgrading one of Scotland's most congested roads.

Preparation for the 35.6m replacement for the A8000 near the Forth Road Bridge started on Monday.

The new road follows a dog-leg route over 4.5km, linking the bridge with the M9 and M8, south west of the existing Humbie Roundabout.

More than 60% of the road will be motorway and the rest will be dual carriageway. Construction work is due to be completed in February 2008.

The road is being funded by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta) with the backing of the Scottish Executive.

Feta convener Councillor Mike Rumney said: "Both commuters and people living in the area of the existing A8000 can't help but joining me in welcoming the start of construction of this new strategic road link.

This will be a major environmental and community benefit to local residents
Mike Rumney

"The replacement of the A8000 will improve journey reliability, reduce commuters' journey times and bring economic benefits, both to the local community and wider afield.

"Traffic which clogs up local roads around South Queensferry and Kirkliston will be taken off these roads and onto the new A8000. That is a major environmental and community benefit to local residents."

The new road will prevent congestion at notorious blackspots such as the Humbie and Echline Roundabouts.

The road has been planned since the 1980s but in 1999, the Scottish Executive pushed the scheme forward with the publication of a strategic roads review.

It was agreed that the new road should be paid for with revenue from the Forth Road Bridge.

Councillor Andrew Burns, Edinburgh Council's executive member for transport, said: "Today sees the end of five years of solid planning and development by the City of Edinburgh Council and the start of work on a very important project.

Public inquiry

"I am pleased to join with my colleagues in Feta in celebrating the commencement of work on this key strategic route."

One of the first on-site jobs is filling in one hundred year old shale mine workings which lie under a corner of the proposed route. Some are up to 60 metres below ground level.

The construction work will go out to tender and is due to start in June next year.

Feta general manager Alastair Andrew said: "There have been many hurdles along the way - we've gone through compulsory purchase orders and a public local inquiry. This has been a massive undertaking and I would like to thank bridge-users and local people for their patience.

"The new road will be especially helpful in reducing congestion for southbound traffic during the morning rush hour.

"The existing A8000 is incapable of meeting the flows of traffic using the Forth Road Bridge, which causes back-ups onto the bridge. Any minor breakdown on the A8000 also causes traffic hold-ups on the bridge."

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