Business leaders have joined the First Minister to lavish praise on the new M8 stretch in Lanarkshire.
They’re delighted that journey times have been cut following the opening of the seven-mile motorway section between Baillieston and Newhouse.
Local drivers are angry at a lack of access to and from the M8, but Nicola Sturgeon insisted the area’s economy is benefiting from the new set-up.
The work was part of the £500 million M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project and Ms Sturgeon performed the official opening ceremony this week.
She said: “Businesses are already reporting a journey time saving of up to 20 minutes between Scotland’s biggest cities and a similar saving for those using Raith junction on the M74. These improvements and additional road capacity will ensure our economy has room to grow.”
The Scottish Government is predicting accidents will be cut by more than 100 a year through the separation of local and motorway traffic.
The Co-op Group has a distribution centre at Newhouse with around 300 vehicles leaving for stores across Scotland and Northern Ireland every day.
Operations manager Andy Baird said: “The new roads are definitely helping. One of the improvements I’ve noticed is between Baillieston and Newhouse where you would sit in a queue near Showcase Leisure Park for up to 20 minutes early in the morning, but now there’s no traffic and that part of the journey is completed in three or four minutes.”
Craig Ritchie, director at Maxim Office Park, said: “The commute for staff has been improved massively with fewer queues, quicker journey times and more cycle paths.”
Construction giant Balfour Beatty moved its Scottish HQ and 450 jobs to Maxim recently and Mr Ritchie added: “We’re attracting interest from a wide range of high profile occupiers due to Maxim being one of the most prominent and accessible locations within central Scotland.”
Richard Mannering, co-owner of Mannering Industrial Supplies, which distributes industrial supplies and equipment from its base in Bellshill, said: “We used to find that vans on a longer delivery run would get back after 5pm, but now they’re returning around 3.30pm. That means we can get more work done in the warehouse and start preparing for the next business day.
“We used to avoid sending a van to East Kilbride for deliveries between 8am and 10am because of hold-ups at Raith, but now East Kilbride is only 10 minutes away at any time of day which means our customers have a better service and we’re more efficient.”