M8 motorway (Scotland)

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M8 motorway (Scotland)
M8 highlighted in blue
Glasgow Charing Cross Interchange.JPG
Looking north from Charing Cross
Route information
Part of Tabliczka E05.svg E05 and Tabliczka E16.svg E16
Maintained by Transport Scotland
Length60.3 mi (97.0 km)
HistoryOpened: 1965
Completed: 2017
Major junctions
East end Sighthill
55°55′28″N3°18′46″W / 55.9244°N 3.3128°W / 55.9244; -3.3128 (M8 motorway (eastern end))
Major intersections Junction 2.svg UK-Motorway-M9.svg
J2 → M9 motorway
Junction 8.svg UK-Motorway-M73.svg / UK-Motorway-A8(M).svg
J8 → M73 motorway/A8(M) motorway
Junction 13.svg UK-Motorway-M80.svg
J13 → M80 motorway
Junction 21.svg UK-Motorway-M74.svg
J21 → M74 motorway
Junction 22.svg UK-Motorway-M77.svg
J22 → M77 motorway
Junction 30.svg UK-Motorway-M898.svg
J30 → M898 motorway
West end Langbank
55°55′24″N4°33′01″W / 55.9234°N 4.5504°W / 55.9234; -4.5504 (M8 motorway (western end))
Country United Kingdom
Constituent country Scotland
Counties Edinburgh, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire
Edinburgh Airport
Glasgow Airport
Road network
UK-Motorway-M6 Toll.svg M6 Toll UK-Motorway-M9.svg M9
The M8 south of Broxburn, West Lothian M8 Motorway and Union Canal.JPG
The M8 south of Broxburn, West Lothian
Kingston Bridge Wfm kingston bridge.jpg
Kingston Bridge
M8 nearing the west terminus of the motorway at Langbank, with views over the Clyde Clyde from M8, Dumbarton.jpg
M8 nearing the west terminus of the motorway at Langbank, with views over the Clyde

The M8 is the busiest motorway in Scotland. [1] It connects the country's two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and serves other large communities including Airdrie, Coatbridge, Greenock, Livingston and Paisley. The motorway is 60 miles (97 km) long. A major construction project to build the final section between Newhouse and Baillieston was completed on 30 April 2017. The motorway has one service station, Heart of Scotland Services, previously named Harthill due to its proximity to the village.



With the advent of motorway-building in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s, the M8 was planned as one of a core of new motorways, designed to replace the A8 road as a high-capacity alternative for intercity travel. The motorway was constructed piecemeal in several stages bypassing towns, beginning in 1965 with the opening by Minister of State for Scotland George Willis of the bypass of Harthill. In 1968 the Renfrew Bypass was opened as the A8(M), becoming part of the M8 when the motorway to the west was connected. [2] The Glasgow inner city section was constructed between 1968 and 1972, using a scheme outlined in the Bruce Report, which was published as the Second World War was closing, and which set out a series of initiatives to regenerate the city. [3] Bruce's scheme evolved into what would become the Glasgow Inner Ring Road, a motorway "box" which would encircle the city centre, connected to the Renfrew Bypass at its south western corner, and the Monkland Motorway (built over the former route of the Monkland Canal) towards Edinburgh at its north eastern corner. Together, these three sections of motorway make up the present day M8.

Most of the motorway's length was complete by 1980. Since then, there has been a new interchange with the M80 motorway added in 1992, a 4-mile (6.4 km) eastern extension from Newbridge to the then-new Edinburgh City Bypass in 1995, and the new junction on the approach to the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow connecting to the new M74 extension in 2011. [4] As part of the Scottish Government's 'M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements programme', on which construction began in early 2015, [5] the remaining unfinished section between Baillieston (J8) and Newhouse (J6) was built, alongside other major improvements enhancing connectivity to the local road network, M73, and M74. [6] [7] The new section was fully opened on 30 April 2017. [8] On 6 December 2019, the Southbar interchange (J29a) was reopened to facilitate regeneration in the Bishopton area, having been previously closed during the 1970s. [9]


Sign at junction 2 70mph.jpg
Sign at junction 2

From the Edinburgh City Bypass, the road runs west to junction with the M9 motorway (for the Forth Road Bridge), bypassing to the north of Livingston and south of Bathgate. It continues across Scotland's Central Belt. The next section – originally designated the Monkland Motorway – begins on the boundary of the City of Glasgow at the M73 motorway junction (the main interchange for all routes south via the M74 motorway) before passing through the districts of Barlanark, Riddrie, Dennistoun and Townhead (following the route of the abandoned Monkland Canal) on the way directly into the city centre. The central section – the uncompleted Glasgow Inner Ring Road – contains numerous junctions serving local communities including Cowcaddens, Garnethill, Kelvingrove and Anderston. It then crosses the River Clyde on the Kingston Bridge, runs west through Kinning Park, Bellahouston and Hillington before leaving Glasgow. Continuing west, it bypasses Renfrew and Paisley (carrying traffic directly over what was the main runway at Renfrew Airport, closed in 1966) before serving Glasgow International Airport, running to the south of Erskine, and terminating at Langbank, around 10 miles (16 km) east of Greenock. [10]

The M8 nominally comprises sections of the international E-road network, namely E05 (Langbank-Baillieston) [11] and E16 (Baillieston-Edinburgh), [12] although neither is signposted – no such roads are in the United Kingdom.


This stub in the Tradeston area, popularly known as the "ski-ramp", is the abandoned interchange for the southern flank of the Glasgow Inner Ring Road M8WestStreetRamps.jpg
This stub in the Tradeston area, popularly known as the "ski-ramp", is the abandoned interchange for the southern flank of the Glasgow Inner Ring Road

The central Glasgow section of the M8 is unusual amongst UK motorways (and more similar to many US Interstates) in that it directly bisects an urban city centre, whereas most other motorways bypass such centres. This section is mainly elevated on a concrete viaduct, lowering pollution concentrations but exposing some public spaces, roof terraces and other parts of buildings to noise and shading.[ citation needed ]

Some slip roads in the Glasgow section unusually enter and exit from the overtaking (right-hand) lane.

The motorway includes one of the busiest river crossings in Europe, Glasgow's Kingston Bridge.

Several incomplete structures were built around the motorway - at least 3 have been demolished or reused from the 1960s dubbed Bridges to Nowhere. A few incomplete structures remain.

The cause of most traffic congestion on the urban section is traffic from the M73 and M80 routes onto the eastern section of M8 which within 2 miles (3.2 km) reduces from five lanes to two on the Kingston Bridge approaches. Prior to the construction of the M74 extension, attempts were made to minimise delays on this section; these included restricting exits around the Kingston Bridge, a ramp metering programme, and expanded use of electronic signing above and beside the motorway as part of the CITRAC (Centrally Integrated TRAffic Control) system. [13] [14]

The M8 is also criticised as a barrier to wildlife access (for example the reintroduced beaver) from the north of Scotland to the Southern Uplands. [15]

Problems solved

Successive failed attempts were made to build the southern flank of the Glasgow Inner Ring Road envisaged by the Bruce Report of the late 1940s. The eastern section had been planned to run north/south close to the High Street of Glasgow, through or under Glasgow Green to the southside of the Clyde. Public opinion was strongly against this and the eastern section was shelved, with a much later M74 connecting the far-eastern areas of Glasgow. This section, which is an extension of the M74 was built to a different route, intended to funnel long-distance traffic from the north and south which is bound for the southern Clyde Coast and allow it to bypass the urban section of the M8. Following many years of intensive political discussion and legal battles, the M74 completion began in 2008 and opened in June 2011. Indications are that the new road has been successful in reducing traffic levels on the urban section of the M8.


M8 motorway
Eastbound exitsJunctionWestbound exits
M8 now terminates
Edinburgh City Bypass A720
Berwick upon Tweed (A1)
Edinburgh City Centre A71
J1 (Hermiston Gait)Start of motorway
Edinburgh Airport, Stirling, Queensferry Crossing (M90) M9 J2 (Newbridge)Stirling, Queensferry Crossing (M90) M9
Livingston A899 J3 (Livingston)Livingston A899
Bathgate, Broxburn, Livingston (West) (A779) A89 J3a (Bathgate)Bathgate, Broxburn, Livingston (West) (A89) A779
Bathgate, Whitburn, Falkirk A801 J4 (Whitburn)Bathgate, Whitburn, Falkirk A801
Whitburn, Heartlands (B7066)J4a (Heartlands)Whitburn, Heartlands (B7066)
Harthill services
Shotts, Harthill, Salsburgh (B7066) B7057 J5 (Harthill)Shotts, Harthill, Salsburgh (B7066) B7057
No accessJ6 (Newhouse) Airdrie, Lanark, Motherwell, Wishaw, Eurocentral (A723) A73
Lanark, Wishaw, Motherwell, Airdrie A8 (A73)J6a (Chapelhall)No access
EurocentralJ7 (Eurocentral)No access
No accessJ7a (Shawhead) Carlisle (M74), East Kilbride, Bellshill A725
Carlisle (M74) M73

Coatbridge A89

J8 (Ballieston)Carlisle (M74), Glasgow (South), Glasgow Airport M73, Glasgow (East) A8

Stirling, Kincardine Bridge (M80)

Baillieston J9 (Easterhouse)No access
Easterhouse, Barlanark J10 (Bartiebeith)Easterhouse, Baillieston
Garthamlock, Queenslie B765 J11 (Stepps) Stepps, Queenslie B765
Riddrie, Stepps A80 J12 (Riddrie)Riddrie, Stepps A80
Stirling, Kincardine Bridge M80 J13 (Provan) Blochairn, Parkhead
Blochairn, Dennistoun B763 J14 (Fruit Market)No access
Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Cross, Kirkintilloch A803 J15 (Townhead)Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Cross A803
No accessJ16 (Craighall) Aberfoyle, George Square (A81)
Dumbarton A82 J17 (Great Western Road)Dumbarton A82
Anderston, Charing Cross (No exit from main carriageway)
Glasgow city centre
J18 (Charing Cross) Kelvingrove, Charing Cross
Clydebank, S.E.C.C. A814
No exit from main carriageway
J19 (Anderston)Clydebank, S.E.C.C. A814
No accessJ20 (Kingston Bridge) Tradeston, East Kilbride (A730)
Tradeston, East Kilbride (A8, A730)
Carlisle M74
J21 (Seaward Street)No access
No accessJ22 (Plantation) Kilmarnock, Prestwick Airport M77
No accessJ23 (Dumbreck Road) Govan, Ibrox B768 (only motorists coming from the M74 may use this junction as of September 2011, due to a barrier splitting the 4-lane motorway into 2 segments, with M8 traffic unable to reach the exit slip)
Govan, Kilmarnock (M77) A761 J24 (Helen Street) Paisley, Bellahouston A761
Clyde Tunnel A739 J25 (Cardonald)Clyde Tunnel A739
No accessJ25a (Braehead) Braehead
Hillington, Braehead A736 J26 (Hillington)Hillington, Renfrew (A8) A736
Paisley, Renfrew A741 J27 (Arkleston)Paisley, Renfrew A741
No accessJ28 (Glasgow Airport)Glasgow Airport
No accessJ28a Irvine A737
Paisley, Glasgow Airport A726, Irvine A737J29 (St James)Paisley A726
No accessJ29a Bishopton A8
Erskine, Erskine Bridge M898 J30 (Erskine)Erskine, Erskine Bridge M898
Start of motorwayJ31 (West Ferry)Bishopton A8
Bishopton A8
Non-motorway traffic
Road becomes A8 towards Greenock

See also

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  1. "Road traffic estimates in Great Britain: 2021 tables". Department for Transport. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  2. Steven Jukes. "Pathetic Motorways". pathetic.org.uk. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2006.
  3. Townhead, c 1970, The Glasgow Story
  4. M8 motorway construction timeline Archived 9 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine , CRBD.co.uk
  5. "Keeping communities informed". transportscotland.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015.
  6. "M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements". transportscotland.gov.uk.
  7. New aerial footage as M8 M73 M74 project nears completion, Daily Record, 5 January 2017
  8. "M8 'missing link' opens fully to traffic". 30 April 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  9. "M8 J29A Southbar Interchange". Roads.org.uk. Roads.org.uk. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  10. M8 motorway exit list Archived 9 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine , CBRD.co.uk
  11. E05 route descriptor, elbruz.com
  12. E16 route descriptor, elbruz.com
  13. "Living in Glasgow – CITRAC". Glasgow.gov.uk. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  14. "Traffic Scotland > Variable Message Signs". trafficscotland.org.
  15. https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/13093/ch9.pdf [ bare URL PDF ]
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