Below is an outline suggestion for a series of new Scottish roads on which I would welcome comments. But first, by “Motorway” I mean a major road suitable within a Scottish context of long-distance driving at relatively low densities and not the school-run of the M25.
So, e.g. the road from Inverness to Wick, being very low density, whilst having good quality junctions to avoid accidents on such a long route, may be an Irish style single main lane with a “hardshoulder” onto which people would be compelled to move to allow over-taking. The key is not big roads, but good quality straight & so fast roads with easy over-taking and a limited number of well designed junctions.
Routes are shown dotted if I’ve just connected two end points.
M702 (A702 upgrade)
Links M74 to Edinburgh & via M90 to Perth and Dundee
M92 (Glasgow – Wallace New City – Aberdeen)
(Also connections to Stirling, Perth, Inverness, Fort William?)
This heads north from the M8, crosses the m80 and then enters a tunnel under the Campsies to arrive at the upper Forth valley where it is proposed to build a new City provisionally called Wallace New City. The route then follows the bottom of the Great Highland Fault line till it joins the A90 (m) north of Forfar and thence to Aberdeen .
M7 (Scotland – Ireland – North west, Ullapool & Western Isles)
(also provides link England, Wales – Ireland)
The M7 is intended to be the first road and possibly rail crossing from Scotland to Ireland (or for the Irish from Ireland to Scotland).
The key to this link is a highly ambitious crossing taking the motorway across the islands at the entrance to the firth to the Mull of Kintyre. It then goes along the backbone of the mull down past campbelltown and then a 12 mile bridge to Northern Ireland.
M7E ( M74 – Kilmarnock, Irvine – Lochgilphead – Ireland & NW)
This section will also dramatically improve the transport links to Kilmarnock, Irvine and make Prestwick airport easily accessible.
M7S ( Ireland, Campbelltown – Lochgilphead – Central belt & NW)
The 12mile bridge will be long by British standards but not worldwide. However it will be an engineering challenge.
M7N (Ullapool – Fort William – Lochgilphead – Ireland & Central Belt)
Whilst this may look less challenging than the M7S, this route will be the first major road going to the NW of Scotland. To reduce travel time, it takes an inland route will will necessitate many major tunnels. And crossings like the Loch Linnhe crossing will be spectacular. There is no easy route to Fort William because the present road is right next to the sea and behind are the Ben Nevis range of hills. Whilst shown as motorway, the road will not be a motorway in the sense of dense traffic volumes, but instead will be built specifically as a “long distance road” providing fast and safe driving aiming to cut down the travel time from NW to central belt by many hours. For example, it should be possible to travel from Ullapool to Glasgow and back in a day (or visa versa).
A9(m) Perth – Inverness
The aim would be to straighten this road and produce a long-distance Motorway.
A9 (m?) Inverness – Orkney (possible bridge Mainland-Orkney)
This extends the A9 to Wick and Orkney
?? (New Wallace Town to Fortwilliam)
This road will make a fast link NW from Wallace town utilising the current route of the Crianlarich to Fortwilliam Railway.
I’ve had one comment “What about the A1”. Also, it would be sensible to upgrade the routes south of the M7 into Dumfries and Galloway. The other route that needs upgrading is Aberdeen to Inverness and perhaps another new town.
I am not sure that these grand plans will fly. The most justified is the improvements in the roads to Aberdeen and Dundee, but beyond that the cost-benefit justification is not there. An example. My mother is from Wick, and in the late 1950s worked as a nurse on ambulances. She says an emergency run from Wick to Inverness took 4-5 hours. Now with road improvements it can be done in under 2.5 hours, even with serious hold-ups and not breaking the speed limit. The journey is only 103 miles now, but an old sign just North of Inverness used to say 139 miles. To upgrade to a dual carriageway might cut a further 30-50 minutes from the journey, but would be phenomenally expensive. The worst parts are in the South of Caithness, particularly at Dunbeath and Berridale, where between the road plunges steeply, with hairpin bends into the sheltered villages. Improving a twenty mile stretch might save ten minutes but would be phenomenally expensive. The population North of this area is just 24000 for Caithness, maybe 3000 for North Sutherland (e.g. Tongue) and 21000 for the entire Orkney Islands. The cost-benefit calculation does not stack up.
On the A9 from Perth to Inverness there might be a better case. The journey time has been similarly reduced in the last 50 years through the road improvements, making average speeds of over 50mph possible without exceeding 60mph. Further sections of dual carriageway (with 70mph limits) to replace the slower parts would help traffic speeds at a fraction of the cost of a full road widening.
What route connects the capital of Scotland and its largest city with the capital of Northern Ireland and on to the capital of the Irish Republic? Compare this with the road to Holyhead.
Good point. The M7 connects to the M77 which links to the existing M8.
However, an alternative route is to go along the M7(E) to where it joins the M74 and then to take the M702 to Edinburgh.
On the Northern Ireland side there should be a motorway past Belfast and on to Dublin.
My, but you’re an ambitious bugger, Mike!
I’m not sure how much of Scotland’s road network justifies upgrading to full motorway status and I’m not about to comment on the bits I know nowt about.
I can understand the thinking behind a bridge crossing to NI but “challenging” doesn’t start to describe it. I would like to hear the opinion of a real expert (which means one who has stood on the Mull in the depths (or height) of a winter storm before opening his mouth!).
Better to do what ought to have been done years ago and upgrade the A75. It’s a Euroroute, for heaven’s sake, and probably the worst in Europe.
Completing the dualling of the A1 between Alnwick and Skateraw needs to be a priority as does the A9. In the latter case, not because of traffic pressure but because it appears to be peopled by impatient idiots.
I have been a fairly regular user of the A702 though not for 10 years or so and never thought it high on anyone’s list for a motorway. I’m not at all sure you could even justify a Biggar by-pass though a bit of straightening around there might not come amiss. Traffic from the south using M6/M74 and heading specifically for Edinburgh must be moderate. Anything going further north already has the option of M74/M73/M80.
But good luck, anyway!
Ambitious – if we can send a man to the moon – I think we can build a bridge to Ireland!
I was having another go working on it last night so your comments come at a very opportune time as I felt I had neglected the SW.
Last thing I pencilled in a new Stranraer-Edinburgh road – mostly to remind me to have a look than anything. But I wasn’t certain whether an entirely new road cutting right across country or upgrading the Stranraer-Carlisle and Stranraer-Ayr roads might be more sensible. The problem is that if the money came from Scottish budgets, then building a road from Stranraer to Carlisle would have much of the benefit in England whereas building a road from Stranraer to the rest of Scotland – benefits Scotland.
I was working on a route from the West of Newcastle cutting directly across country toward Edinburgh (and thence on to the M90/M8). Not sure if I’m happy with this approach as again much of the benefit is to England – and England has been notoriously slow to invest in roads near the border, so even if the Scottish government built a good road to Newcastle, it would likely end in a big traffic jam and rutted roads when it gets to England.
There’s a need to have a motorway from the M74 to join up with the M90 to link Edinburgh & Fife to the West of England. But after looking at the plans, I realised that the M7 (E) and M702 – were effectively the Edinburgh road to Dublin. So, I’ve now moved the junction further north and now the “M70” comes along just south of New Lanark and Livingstone and plugs into the M90 (perhaps it should just be called M90?)
So, now the new road effectively links Fife & the Lothians to West England, Ayrshire, Ireland and the Western parts of Scotland (Coast from Mull of Kintyre to Ullapool).
M80 – Aberdeen
Is a crap road and even worse with all the average speed cameras (which means I’m watching my speedo all the time and not the road – which means I get tired and which means more of my attention goes to the speedo and less to the road – I used to be able to relax and look around when there was a gap in the traffic – now it’s constant attention to the speedo – so heaven help anyone who pulls out!**). The M80 from Glasgow is woefully low on capacity and should be three lanes @ 70-80mph and not two at 50mph. They gave up decent roads at Stirling and by the time it gets to Dundee, it’s not quite single lane, but it might as well be for all the queues you get.
The road from Perth to Dundee is horrendously busy and has people pulling out into fast traffic. The hill going out of Dundee requires second gear with a full grown family and packed boot. It’s totally unsuited to the transport of large equipment.
The road is long, with almost no services and all in all it has all the hallmarks of a road used by a lot of people – but not one many politicians use driving too and from Holyrood.
**On average speed cameras – these are typical of road “safety” gimmicks which some slick company salesman gets some gullible politician/civil servant to buy from them. Yes, they keep average speed down – possibly they can manipulate the data to show less accidents on that road – but more than likely the constant stress of driving with these devices causes people to become excessively tired from the drive and then causes more accidents elsewhere (probably in 30mph zones). Also, there’s the problem of just sitting at the same speed as everyone else – your mind just starts to wonder. They found the same problem on motorways that went on and on in a straight line – when your mind is least occupied you tend to lose attention and fall asleep.
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Might I suggest you all take a closer look at the map of central/southern Scotland? The obvious, new build, motorway connection to Edinburgh from anywhere in England is from near to the village of Douglas in S Lanarkshire to Edinburgh. The M74 from England to Glasgow is a 3 lane highway all the way up to Douglas. At Douglas one lane disappears down a slip road leaving the 2 lanes heading to Hamilton, where it gains another lane to continue on to Glasgow. Recently, early 2017, the M74 gained a 4th lane near that point to cater for expected increase in traffic from the south into Glasgow.
At present, mid 2017, there is no direct motorway connection between Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, and England. The A1 is a joke, the A70 not much better. The land adjacent to the M74 at Douglas is ideal for a motorway interchange. It is flat, vacant and extensive. It already has a motorway service station. The A70 route to Edinburgh is mostly over farm land, from Carnwath that becomes hill-farm land.
There’s a principle of road building that politicians build a transport network to move themselves about – which invariably means that however small the location of the nation’s parliament, it invariably gains the biggest roads going to and from it – not around it, not to and from the most important commercial cities – just to and from the places of work for the few hundred people that run government.
As such I feel it is only a matter of time before those running Holyrood misspend huge amounts of public money on excessively large projects improving their journey to their own constituencies.
Which is why I intentionally left out any roads that would solely benefit Edinburgh – because it will undoubtedly get more than its fair share of the transport budget.
However in an ideal world where politicians didn’t put their own interests first – yes I would agree with your comments and act on them!