The M74/A74 is one of the most important trunk routes in Scotland and the remainder of the A74 was dual carriageway to the English border. There was pressure for such an important route to be converted to full motorway standards throughout its length. Apart from the upgrading to motorway standard of the section south of Draffan the SDD in their report on roads in Scotland in 1980 said "on other sections of this road south to the Border there is continuing improvement of the dual carriageway with the addition of 1 metre hard strips and the installation in appropriate places of central reservation barriers".
Length: 20.92 / 13
This 6 mile section of motorway provides an eastern by-pass of Glasgow. It joins the A8/M8 Glasgow motorway at the Baillieston interchange. This extensive four-level structure incorporates two interchanges and provides links between the M73 and M8 (Monkland motorway), the M73 and A8 and the M8 and A89. The whole interchange covers some 55 hectares and includes 21 concrete bridges. It was officially opened in April 1972 by the Rt. Hon. George Younger.
Length: 9.66 / 6
Construction work on the M74 was started in 1964, and the final section opened in 2011. Initially, the M74 terminated at Elvanfoot on the A74 which was an all-purpose dual carriageway to the Scottish Border. During the 1990s, an intense period of construction upgraded this to full motorway standards, becoming the A74(M). The final section of the M74, from its northern extremity at Fullarton Road to the M8 south of Kingston bridge, was opened in 2011. In all, the 37 miles of the M74 and the 49 miles of A74(M) took some 45 years to complete. The final M6 connection on the English side of the border was opened in 2008, exactly 50 years after the first section of M6 was opened.
This route links the two largest cities in Scotland and provides connections to other towns in the Forth/Clyde Valley, Including the New Town of Livingston. At its western end there are connections with the M74 leading south to the A74 and Carlisle and thence to the English motorway system via the M6.
Prior to 2009, the M80 was split into two detached sections, the Stepps By-pass, connecting to the M8 in Glasgow, and the extension, from Haggs connecting to the M9 and the M876. In 2009, a substantial scheme was started to connect these two detached sections.
This route starts in the east at the M8 interchange at Newbridge and the first short section had to be aligned so as to provide a route clear of proposed developments at Turnhouse Airport. A mile-long motorway spur was built from this section to the southern approaches to the Forth Road Bridge. Continuing westwards the route by-passes the ancient town of Linlithgow, where Mary Queen of Scots was born, and then joins the Polmont and Falkirk by-pass.
The Scottish motorway network extends to some 380 km, a small fraction of the total length of 53,000 km, but carries over 5,300 million vehicles annually, some 12½% of the loading on the whole Scottish road network. As a workhorse, it carries almost a quarter of the heavy goods vehicle mileage. And transfer of the nation's traffic to the motorway network is continuing. Special Roads and motorways, a concept first introduced into legislation in 1949, are embraced by all mainstream political parties. The introduction of the Scottish motorway network has been a resounding success.
Looking back over the years, the enduring picture is a partnership between the local authorities in Glasgow, in the west of Scotland, creating the urban network for that great conurbation, and central government, working from Edinburgh, providing the inter urban network to "shrink" Scotland and the challenges of communication.
This Scottish contribution to the archive is built up from a collection of papers from a few of those who took part in delivering the network from its first appearance as a series of isolated new roads in the mid 1960s, and whose careers have spanned this step change in Scottish infrastructure.
Note: Although the motorway network in Scotland is very substantial, it is regretted that very little (or in some cases no) information on individual schemes is available. It is hoped that, in the future, further information will become available, and these pages can be updated.