M8 Motorway

Edinburgh to Langbank

Glasgow Motorway Archive - M8 Motorway Map

The M8 motorway connects the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is of great economic importance to Scotland and is a strategic transport link. It was built in several stages, the majority of which were completed between 1965 and 1980. The route has both rural and urban characteristics, and with traffic flows upwards of 150,000 vehicles per day, is amongst the busiest motorways in Europe. What was once known as the Glasgow Inner Ring Road makes up the urban section to the north and west of Glasgow city centre.

By 1960 the Scottish Office had a stated desire to upgrade the A8 between Greenock and Edinburgh as part of plans to modernise Scotland’s infrastructure and provide a much-needed boost to economic output. Government White Papers, notably 1963’s “Central Scotland: A Programme for Growth”, reinforced this intention, although it wasn’t until nearer 1965 that it was confirmed which sections of the route would be completed to motorway standard.


The Scottish Office took the lead in developing contracts in conjunction with the local authorities in all areas except Glasgow Corporation. Here, the council developed their own proposals, published within 1965’s “A Highway Plan for Glasgow”, although these proposals allowed for connections to the new east-west route.


Target 1 of Glasgow’s plan intended that the M8 between Hillington and Baillieston (including the Glasgow Inner Ring Road north and west flanks) would be complete by 1975. This was achieved by April 1980, with construction taking place in phases from November 1965. The completed route, approximately 20 miles long, cost around £120 million to build and is valued at more £1.5 billion in today’s prices. The route was completed through several major construction contracts, some of which were of considerable scale. These schemes were provided with 75% grant assistance from the Scottish Development Department.

M8 Motorway Construction Summary



Opening Date

Harthill Bypass

4 - 5

1st December 1965

West of Harthill to Newhouse

5 - 6

24th August 1967

Renfrew Bypass

26 - 29a

18th March 1968

Glasgow Inner Ring Road

Townhead and Woodside 1

15 - 16

7th April 1968

Dechmont to Whitburn

3 - 4

23rd September 1969

Glasgow Inner Ring Road

Kingston Bridge & Approaches

19 - 20

26th June 1970

Newbridge to Dechmont

2 - 3

30th November 1970

Bishopton Bypass Stage 1

29a - 30

27th December 1970

Glasgow Inner Ring Road

Woodside 2

16 - 17

7th May 1971

Glasgow Inner Ring Road

Charing Cross Section

17 - 19

4th February 1972

Monkland Motorway Stage 1

12 - 15

30th May 1975

Bishopton Bypass Stage 2

30 - 31

18th November 1975

Renfrew Motorway Stage 1

20 - 24

15th October 1976

Renfrew Motorway Stage 2

24 - 26

15th October 1976

Monkland Motorway Stage 2A

11 - 12

29th June 1979

Monkland Motorway Stage 2B

9 - 11

25th April 1980

City Boundary to Baillieston


25th April 1980

St. James Interchange


17th August 1993

City Bypass to Newbridge

1 - 2

11th December 1995

Baillieston to Newhouse

6 - 8

April 2017 (Phased)

To the east of the city, the Scottish Office and Lanarkshire County Council commenced work on two projects. The first of these was the upgrade of the A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse to grade separated dual carriageway which began construction in 1960. This was followed shortly after by the construction of a section of new road M8 between Newhouse and Whitburn. This section, which replaced the A8 single three lane carriageway, became the first section of M8 to open to traffic. To the west, Renfrew County promoted bypasses of Renfrew and Bishopton, completed between 1968 and 1975.


West of Bishopton, the route was constructed as dual carriageway, with work completed by the mid-1980s. The eastern sections between Newbridge and Whitburn were completed in the early 1970s, with an extension to the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass completed in 1995.

This article was first published in November 2020.

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© Glasgow Motorway Archive (2020)

Glasgow Motorway Archive was inspired by John M. Cullen (1928-2018) and was made real with the generous donation of his private archive of engineering and technical records. Thank you John, we think of you often. 

All works © Glasgow Motorway Archive (2010-2021) except where stated. Reproduction and distribution of material without written permission is prohibited.