Glasgow to Stirling
The M80 Motorway connects Glasgow with Stirlingshire, Falkirk and the north of Scotland. Running to 25 miles in length, the road has a fragmented construction history which spanned four decades.
The M80 travels through the north east of Glasgow bypassing Robroyston, Stepps, Bishopbriggs & Moodiesburn. Further north the route passes close to Cumbernauld and is joined by the M73 and the A80 dual carriageway at Mollinsburn. The first stage of the motorway to be completed was the upgraded Denny Bypass and its extension to Bannockburn, followed in 1992 by the Stepps Bypass. The motorway was completed in 2011 when an online upgrade of the A80 was completed.
An upgraded route between Glasgow and Stirling was proposed in various plans from the mid-1940s. In the early 1960s, the existing A80 was dualled from Stepps to Cumbernauld New Town and a new section of road was constructed from Auchenkilns to Haggs. The Stirling Motorway was proposed in “A Highway Plan for Glasgow”, published in 1965 and later developed further within the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study. Today's M80 follows a very similar line to those put forward in the 1960s, however there are considerable changes north of Mollinsburn where a route through the Kelvin Valley, to the north of Cumbernauld was recommended.
North of Haggs the upgraded A80 joined the Denny Bypass which was constructed as a dual carriageway in 1964. By the late 1960s it was determined that a motorway should be constructed between Glasgow and Bannockburn. This led to the upgrading of the Denny Bypass to motorway standards and its northward extension to the M9 Stirling Bypass which was completed in May 1974.
Progress on the Stirling Motorway within the Glasgow city boundary was initially earmarked for construction by 1980, but progress stalled due to local government reorganisation and reductions in funding. The Scottish Office considered the section from Stepps to Haggs as a low priority due to the availability of the recently completed A80.
M80 Motorway Construction Summary
Haggs to Bannockburn
7 - 9
22nd May 1974
1 - 3
8th June 1992
Stepps to Haggs
3 - 7
By the 1980s, the Stirling Motorway had become the Stepps Bypass. Essentially in the same corridor, but to slightly lesser specification and with only dual two lane carriageways, Strathclyde Regional Council pushed forward with plans due to increasing traffic congestion on the urban A80 between Stepps and Millerston. By the end of the decade, tens of thousands of vehicles were passing through these districts each day. The construction contract, valued at £22.5 Million, was awarded to Tarmac Construction Ltd in October 1989. The Stepps Bypass opened to traffic on June 8th 1992.
At the end of the bypass an allowance was made for the northward extension of the route. The Scottish Office commissioned a variety of studies considering the merits of a route through the Kelvin Valley versus an online upgrade of the existing A80. A final decision was reached in November 1999 when it was announced that the online upgrade would be taken forward. This was due to the anticipated negative environmental impacts on the Kelvin Valley and its surroundings.
Difficult ground conditions resulted in the construction of an at-grade roundabout at the junction of the A80 and A73 at Auchinkilns in the late-1960s. This had become a congestion hotspot with several miles of queuing traffic common on the A80 each day. A scheme to provide a flyover was completed in 2005, with an allowance for eventual upgrade to motorway standards.
Progress on the Stepps to Haggs section was slow, with three schemes initially proposed to complete it. This was dropped in favour of a single, larger scheme, the details of which were revealed in 2005.
Controversially, the recommendations of engineering consultants were ignored and the Scottish Executive pressed forward with plans to construct the majority of the new road as dual two lane motorway.
A £320 million construction contract was awarded in 2008 with work completed by the autumn of 2011. Traffic flows have continued to rise and congestion remains an issue between Auchenkilns and Castlecary.
This article was first published in November 2020.