Glasgow to Kilmarnock
The M77 is the primary arterial route between Glasgow and Ayrshire. At almost 18 miles in length, the road was constructed in three sections between 1981 and 2005.
First proposed in "A Highway Plan for Glasgow" as the Ayr Motorway, it was shelved in the mid-1970s with the exception of a short spur to Dumbreck Road. It was resurrected a decade later due to cross party political pressure and traffic congestion. A final scheme completed in 2005, replaced the remaining single carriageway sections of A77 between Newton Mearns and Kilmarnock that were ridiculously outdated and had a very poor safety record.
Plans for improved road connections between Glasgow and Ayrshire had been considered on a number of occasions in studies such as the Clyde Valley Plan of 1949. A Highway Plan for Glasgow, published in 1965, was the first to make any serious proposals.
In 1961 initial sketches of the Inner Ring Road included plans for a full access triangle junction on its south flank with a connection to a route entitled “The South Motorway”. Traffic studies determined that the proximity of other planned junctions would create significant congestion problems due to weaving traffic. As a result it was relocated westwards to connect with the M8 Renfrew Motorway instead. This led to the design of the large braided interchange at Plantation which today links the M77, M8 and M74. The road was renamed as “The Ayr Motorway” and this designation remained in use until the plans were scaled back in the mid-1970s.
The Ayr Motorway was proposed as a north to south route to the A77 at Newton Mearns with a mix of two, three and four lane sections with hard shoulders. The current M77 is located in the same corridor. It was anticipated the M77 would interchange with two further motorways - the South Link Motorway and the "C" Ring Motorway (later the Paisley - Hamilton Motorway). At Dumbreck Road a large full access interchange with the South Link Motorway was proposed.
M77 Motorway Construction Summary
Dumbreck Road Connection
7th August 1981
M77 Ayr Road Route
1 - 5
6th December 1996
M77 Malletsheugh to Fenwick
5 - 8
27th April 2005
Construction of the Ayr Motorway was planned as two stages. Stage 1 between the M8 Renfrew Motorway and Dumbreck Road was was programmed for completion before 1975, with Stage 2 planned for the period 1975-1980. Public exhibitions and engagement exercises were undertaken in the early 1970s where opposition to plans for the road to be constructed through Pollok Park were heard.
Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick published a report on the Ayr Motorway in 1975 with mitigation against the impact on Pollok Park. Strathclyde Regional Council ultimately decided to shelve plans for Stage 2 due to public opposition and funding constraints, but to proceed with Stage 1 albeit to a lesser specification and with the name "Dumbreck Road Connection".
Construction on the Dumbreck Road Connection started in April 1979 and was completed in August 1981. It was constructed with two lanes and no hard shoulders and terminated on a large roundabout. Scheme designer Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick was told to avoid flared slip roads or a layout which would give the impression of inevitable expansion southwards. Behind closed doors this was of course the plan, but it was built in such a way that it wasn’t obvious to the public.
By the mid-1980s, and with increasing congestion on the A77 through Glasgow's southside, Strathclyde Regional Council (with Scottish Office support and the lobbying of Ayrshire politicians) reintroduced plans for an extension of the route to Newton Mearns. Construction was completed by 1996, though not before considerable protests about the effect of the motorway on Pollok Park and surrounding communities. The Scottish Office pressed forward with plans to extend the motorway to the Kilmarnock Bypass, removing a notorious section of single carriageway A77. Construction on this section began in 2003 and was completed in April 2005. Today, the M77 is one of the busiest sections of the Glasgow motorway system, mostly due to new developments to the south of the city.
This article was first published in November 2020.