COMPLETION OF the M74 link in Glasgow has been made a top priority by Scottish transport minister Sarah Boyack.
Boyack told the Scottish Parliament last week that a strategic link between Glasgow's Fullerton Road and west of Kingston Bridge 'will be delivered'.
She will meet leaders of Glasgow City Council, South Lanarkshire Council and Renfrewshire Council on 10 October to find the best way forward.
Initial proposals for the link's route have shown the difficulties ahead: the councils' and executive's preferred options produced cost estimates of £307M and £177M respectively. Limited monies will be available from the executive and the councils have rejected trunk road tolling.
Boyack stressed the project would involve a multi-modal transport study involving the M74, A8 and A80 corridors.
These studies are expected to take up to 18 months, with an overall time to completion of seven to eight years, but Boyack emphasised that 'this is not about avoiding action; it is about acting responsibly'.
The proposed M74 extension is part of the Scottish executive's newly released transport spending priorities to 2004. The figures are a breakdown of the £170M increase in transport spending announced by finance minister Jack McConnell in Scotland's first three-year budget.
The increase, which will take total expenditure to over £460M by 2004, will include the creation of a £75M fund to support the M74 and other major transport projects; doubling the public transport investment fund to £150M; £68M in extra funding for motorways and trunk roads; £70M for local authorities for road maintenance; extra funds for rural transport; and free offpeak bus travel for pensioners and the disabled.
The proposed allocation of £70M to local authorities was described as 'miserly' by MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife Bruce Crawford. He cited a survey by the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland which shows the £1.5bn maintenance backlog for Scotland's roads requires £75M per year to manage, plus £166M for bridges.