It has cost £135 million a mile, it was controversial from before it hit the drawing board, but at least the new M74 motorway extension will open to open to traffic today eight months ahead of schedule and between £15 million and £20 million under budget.
The M74 Completion project extends the motorway from Fullarton Road junction near Carmyle to the M8 motorway west of Kingston Bridge, on the south side of Glasgow City centre and the River Clyde, with a link to the M77 a few hundred yards on.
The biggest benefit to motorists of the extension, which is 8 kms or five miles long, will be to relieve traffic from the seemingly permanently clogged M8 on the east of the city, with as many as 20,000 vehicles per day transferring to the new motorway.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil (pictured) said today that the completion of the M74 will generate as many as 20,000 jobs for the Scottish economy.
Mr Neil said: “The new M74 motorway will bring major economic and social benefits to businesses, communities and industry in the West of Scotland and the country as a whole.
“Thousands of new jobs will be created and because this crucial piece of infrastructure was completed several months ahead of schedule, millions of pounds of Scottish taxpayers’ money has been saved.
“The daily rush hour congestion in and around Glasgow will also be eased leading to improved travel, which is good news for business, commuters and the many thousands of visitors coming to Scotland.”
The M74 Completion project is a partnership between Transport Scotland, the principal funder, and Glasgow City, South Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Councils. The contractor is Interlink M74 JV, a joint venture comprising Morrison Construction, Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and Sir Robert McAlpine, four of the UK’s major civil engineering contractors. The project has a fixed construction cost of £445 million plus an allowance of £12 million for treatment of mine workings along the route, with the balance of the overall cost being mainly due to land acquisition.
Interlink M74 Chairman, Bob Wilson, said: “Interlink M74 JV is delighted to have successfully delivered the design and construction of the M74 Completion project, Scotland’s largest single road scheme in a generation. The opening today is a great day for everyone involved with the project and the wider Scottish construction industry.
“We have delivered this complex civil engineering project safely, ahead of programme and on course to be under budget.
“The project has been able to employ a high proportion of local people creating over 50 employment opportunities for the long term unemployed.”
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:
“Today marks the start of a new era for Glasgow and the west of Scotland with an enhanced transport infrastructure, ensuring the city is better connected both nationally and internationally, and ensuring easier access to, from and across Glasgow.
“This road is of major significance to the city. For years, Glasgow made the case for the completion of the M74 and since day one has been the force behind the project. The council’s staff have worked tirelessly to get the road finished ahead of time and under budget. “Its completion will bring opportunities for thousands of individuals and businesses, support East End regeneration, and help us deliver the best possible Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.”