Vital underpass opens on mammoth Scottish roads job

Highways Reporters

Another major milestone has been reached in Scotland’s biggest ever roads project.

The A725 Underpass has been opened at Raith Interchange by Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, as part of the £500 million M8 M73 M74 motorway improvements project.

Graeme Reid, Project Manager for the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project, said: “The creation of the Raith underpass and the surrounding local roads network has been the most technically complex and challenging part of the project.

“Not only has SRP had to keep the traffic moving through the junction whilst carrying out this major feat of engineering, they have had to overcome a significant technical challenge – the high groundwater caused by the junction’s close proximity to the River Clyde.

“Approximately 200,000 cubic metres of earth has been excavated to create the underpass . In addition, as the site sits below the level of the river, the creation of 40 pumping wells operating 24/7 was essential to drain groundwater and allow construction to progress.”

Formally known as Bothwellhaugh Interchange, the improvements to the new junction include the creation of a 560m-long, 35-metre wide underpass below the existing roundabout and the M74 – the main arterial route between Scotland and England.

Mr Brown (pictured, left), said: “The opening of the new underpass at Raith is a major and significant milestone in this massive transport infrastructure project.

“The Scottish Government is investing almost half a billion pounds to improve Central Scotland’s road network. This investment will make a tangible difference to road users, alleviating the traffic congestion that has been a historic problem at Raith, and improving journey times through the junction by up to 15 minutes.

“The new underpass, and the strategic road network to which it links, will be a considerable benefit to commuters and businesses right across Scotland.”

Consisting of more than 1600 concrete and steel piles of up to 25m in length, the underpass will provide a free-flow link for traffic between the Bellshill Bypass and the East Kilbride Expressway, alleviating congestion on the roundabout which has been struggling to cope with the 75,000 vehicles that use the junction on a daily basis.

SRP has also constructed three new bridges to carry the motorway and local traffic over the new underpass, separating the traffic on the A725 from that using the M74.

In addition, two new footbridges have been installed to the north and south of the roundabout and once complete will create a safe access route over the busy junction between Bothwell and Strathclyde Country Park. These footbridges are part of 16km of new cycle paths and pedestrian walkways across the entire project, which will provide much improved accessibility and safety by segregating pedestrians and cyclists from motorists, and link communities to places of work and recreation which until now have been cut off by the motorway network.
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