Some of the more frequent queries and comments received in relation to the scheme proposals, along with Transport Scotland's general response, are presented below.
Comment: The route selection/decision making process did not properly consider alternative options.
Response: Studies to investigate the upgrading of the A80 to motorway standard have been ongoing since the 1970's. Various route options have been considered to complete the section between Stepps to Haggs. By the mid 1990’s these had been reduced to two options, namely the A80 Route (on-line) and the Kelvin Valley Route (off-line). A formal comparative assessment of these routes was undertaken in 1996, addressing cost, economic and operational performance and environmental impact.
Both route options offered an equally good financial return while meeting the scheme objectives of completing the Central Scotland motorway network. From an engineering perspective, the A80 would have been more difficult to construct, but both options were considered feasible. However, in terms of environmental impact, the two route corridors were markedly different and, consequently, the nature of the impacts was not directly comparable, such that the selection of a preferred route was problematical. It was therefore, decided to take the two route options to the public arena to widen the debate and gain additional input from the public, local non-statutory bodies and the statutory consultees already involved in the assessment process.
The M80/M73 Stepps to Haggs Consultation Forum was then held in the summer of 1996. Both the Kelvin Valley and A80 route options were presented on an equal footing; the then Scottish Office being willing to construct either route. The consultation process involved initial meetings with the relevant local authorities, community groups, national bodies and special interest groups. A series of exhibitions and workshops were then held at venues in the locality, allowing local opinions to be voiced. The collated results from the workshops were then fed back into the public domain during the final stage of the consultation that comprised a two-day public forum, run by an independent facilitator, which allowed groups taking part to present their views and hear the opinions of others. In the final analysis it was the inability to successfully mitigate the potentially adverse impacts associated with the Kelvin Valley route, identified during the scheme assessment and the Consultation Forum that led to the Ministers decision to opt for the on-line route, where impacts could be mitigated, as the preferred option. This decision was further reviewed and reaffirmed in 1999 in the Scottish Strategic Roads Review, which concluded that no further consideration would be given to the Kelvin Valley option.
Comment: The proposed route is more expensive than alternative options.
Response: The two route options were assessed as part of the formal comparative assessment and appraised during the consultation exercise in 1996. The route costs were comparable with both offering economic benefits. The cost of the route options was not a significant contributing factor to route choice. The on-line route which is currently being promoted has been fine tuned and reduced in scale from earlier proposals, so that its scheme cost is now less in relative terms.
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Comment: A full Public Inquiry (PI) should be held.
Response: The legislation under which road schemes are promoted provides for objections that have been made and not withdrawn, to be heard through a Public Local Inquiry, not a full Public Inquiry. As one forum for unresolved objections to be heard is already provided for under existing legislation, there is no justification or requirement to introduce another.
Comment: Noise and vibration levels will increase.
Response: Noise barriers and/or earth bunds will be constructed at a number of locations along the route to provide screening from traffic noise for a number of properties in the area, notably those properties located adjacent to the existing mainline carriageway. Lower noise carriageway surfacing is proposed which will also result in a reduction of traffic noise.
Almost all residential properties along the proposed scheme between Mollinsburn and Haggs (approximately 2500) will experience a decrease in noise levels compared to current levels, mainly due to the mitigation measures put in place. Approximately 100 properties located along the local road network within the study area will experience an increase in noise as a consequence of general traffic growth which would occur regardless of whether the scheme is built.
Overall, the proposed scheme will result in a mostly beneficial impact on the study area between Stepps and Haggs, when compared to the existing situation, mostly as a result of the proposed mitigation. Approximately 3200 properties will experience a reduction in noise levels whilst approximately 400 properties will experience an increase in noise levels, of which approximately 300 are as a result of the off-line section between Stepps and Mollinsburn.
The vibration nuisance assessment undertaken demonstrates that vibration impacts will follow a similar pattern to the noise assessment with most properties benefiting from reduced vibration whilst a few properties will experience a disbenefit. It should be noted that no evidence has been found that traffic-induced ground or air-bourne vibration can cause even minor damage to buildings.
Comment: Noise and vibration levels will increase during construction.
Response: Noise and vibration impacts during the construction period are most likely to affect properties located close to the proposed scheme. The impacts are temporary, may vary during the construction period, and will depend on the Contractor’s methods of construction. Mitigation of noise during construction may include, but is not limited to the following: use of barriers to reduce noise levels, ensuring all equipment is operating to specification and on-site noise monitoring. The strategy will be based on adherence to best practice and will include a requirement to adhere to noise levels set by the appropriate local authorities and the monitoring of compliance throughout the construction period.
Comment: Air quality will deteriorate once the scheme is operational.
Response: Concentrations of the two key pollutants associated with vehicle emissions (nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particles (PM10)) are predicted to fall in future years, both with and without the scheme in place, due to a range of measures applied at national level, such as improvements in vehicle technology and tighter emission standards.
Air quality monitoring undertaken within the study area demonstrates that existing air quality levels are affected by a contribution from other sources outwith the area and are not solely produced by vehicles on the A80 and other local roads.
The significance of both existing and future air quality concentrations is best assessed by reference to the national air quality standards and objectives, established by the Government to protect human health. The ‘standards’ are set as concentrations below which effects are unlikely even in sensitive population groups, or below which risks to public health would be exceedingly small. If these standards are not achieved, Local Authorities must declare an air quality management area (AQMA). The study area is not designated as an AQMA and it is unlikely that any of the air quality objectives will be exceeded in the vicinity of the proposed scheme.
A large number of properties adjacent to the existing A80 between Stepps and Mollinsburn will benefit from improved air quality as traffic is re-routed away from the A80. A relatively small number of properties along the proposed route between Stepps and Mollinsburn will experience a deterioration in air quality due to the road re-alignment.
Between Mollinsburn and Haggs, the proposed scheme will result in an insignificant impact at the majority of properties. Of the remaining properties, some located close to the A80 are predicted to show an improvement in air quality, whilst others show a worsening of air quality. The extent of change at each property is dependant on the proximity of the property to the new road. However, it is important to remember that air quality is anticipated to improve when compared to today’s situation.
Comment: Air quality will deteriorate during construction.
Response: With regard to air quality during construction, it is considered that only those properties within 100m of the works are at risk of experiencing dust impacts generated during construction. The impacts are temporary, may vary during the construction period, and will depend on the Contractor’s methods of construction.
Dust can be generated during earth-moving activities. Careful management will be required to avoid significant impacts. Dust impacts during construction can be minimised by the use of pumped spray water-bowsers, enforcement of speed limits on unpaved ground, regular cleaning of paved areas, the use of water suppression during any cutting of stone or concrete, careful siting of stock piles and the early seeding of slopes.
Grouting of shallow mine workings will be required in the vicinity of Cumbernauld village, Castlecary village and at Haggs junction. Grouting activities can produce dust problems generated from uncovered stores of pulverised fuel ash (PFA) and during the drilling of grout holes. PFA is not considered to have any hazardous components or eco-toxic effects. Batching of the grout involves mixing the dry constituents with water in a container and some nearby properties may be affected by dust soiling.
Given the high volumes of vehicles currently using the A80 and the consequent levels of congestion experienced, the effect of construction vehicles on air quality is likely to be insignificant.
Comment: Scheme will still be congested when complete.
Response: The proposed scheme will provide a significant reduction in congestion for road users when it opens in terms of improved journey times and reliability. In the opening year, the decrease in travel time will amount to between 30% and 40% between Stepps and Haggs during peak periods which equates to savings of up to 15 minutes. Beyond this, the scheme will continue to offer greater operational benefits than if it is not constructed. However, in line with Scottish Ministers' objectives of striving to stabilise traffic volumes, the scheme is not intended to meet unconstrained levels of traffic growth beyond the year of opening.
In order to maintain the benefits provided by the scheme beyond the year of opening it will be necessary to constrain the volume of vehicles using the M80. The recent white paper 'Scotland's Transport Future' highlights measures that may be introduced that could assist in constraining traffic volumes across the wider network, thereby limiting the volume of traffic using the M80. It is, however, not possible to predict what impact these measures may have. In the event that traffic volumes continue to grow beyond the year of opening further measures, including Integral Demand Management Measures will be introduced as and when required to maintain the desired level of service on the route. These measures can be targeted such that they provide priority for high value public transport, heavy goods vehicles and high occupancy vehicles, hence discouraging unsustainable long distance commuter traffic.
Comment: Traffic will divert to the side road network during construction.
Response: Traffic management has been considered in the development of the specimen design for the proposed scheme to minimise disruption to through traffic. The Contract Documentation will stipulate that two lanes in each direction on the A80 are maintained from 6am to 8pm throughout the construction period. There will, however, be a requirement for a limited number of night-time lane closures during certain operations. Flows at these times will be low with the result that there will be minimal delays and consequently no diversion of traffic is anticipated. The implementation of traffic management measures will minimise the risk of congestion and it is therefore considered that there will be no significant diversion of traffic to the side road network during the construction period.
The potential for adverse impacts in safety and security of road users and residents in the vicinity of the works in terms of accident potential will be minimised by the requirement of the Contractor to adhere to terms and conditions of current safety practices and legislation including Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 as amended. Measures such as the provision of secure fencing and communication with local residents will further minimise risk.
In addition, the Auchenkilns Junction Improvements currently under construction on the A80 and the recently reconstructed section of the A8 between Baillieston and Newhouse, are examples of major road works constructed on-line, where two lanes in each direction have been kept open successfully. Analysis of journey time surveys undertaken before and during the works at Auchenkilns suggests minimal delays are incurred by road users on the A80 and consequently there is minimal diversion of traffic onto the side road network.
Comment: Increased disruption in the event of an accident during construction.
Response: The Contract Documentation will stipulate that two lanes in each direction on the A80 are maintained from 6am to 8pm throughout the construction period. This means that there will be no change in the number of lanes in use compared to the present situation.
The Contractor will also be required to provide a 24-hour fast response vehicle recovery service, whenever traffic management restrictions are in place on the A80. Under normal conditions it can generally take a number of hours for breakdown vehicles to respond, whereas these vehicles will be on standby during construction to minimise delays. It is anticipated that delays from accidents/incidents will therefore be reduced during construction in comparison to the current situation.
Comment: Value of property will drop.
Response: Compensation, under Part 1 of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1973, may be payable where it can be shown that the value of the property has been reduced by physical factors such as noise, vibration and pollution arising from the use of the new road.
Comment: Cumbernauld will be further divided by the proposals.
Response: The proposed situation will be no different from present with all of the crossings of the existing road, including footbridges and underpasses being retained or where necessary, replaced. The proposed scheme will therefore cause no new community severance of Cumbernauld. The proposed scheme will provide a marked improvement in accessibility between local roads and the A80/M80 through improved junction layouts.
Comment: Scheme is against the original new town plan.
Response: In 1973 the Secretary of State for Scotland made the decision to extend the designated area of the Cumbernauld New Town to the North of the A80. There have been claims that the Minister gave an associated undertaking that the new M80 would be built to the north of the town in the Kelvin Valley. However, consideration of the route for the M80 between Stepps and Haggs has been on-going since the early 1970s under different administrations and arrangements. The formal establishment of a preferred line comes with the publication of draft orders and the key point is that Ministers have only taken that step now. Indeed, there was no Ministerial announcement on a preferred route until completion of the extensive public consultation in 1996.
Comment: Scheme will exacerbate health conditions.
Response: Air pollution from the proposed scheme will not have a detectible effect on the health of local residents. Future concentrations of pollutants should be lower than those currently being experienced by people living near the A80. The risk of asthma and respiratory conditions being exacerbated by exposure to air pollutants will therefore be reduced. This will be the case, with or without the new scheme. The new road itself will bring about small changes in exposure depending on where people live. In some areas air quality will improve, while in others it will deteriorate slightly. The assessment has shown that concentrations will remain well below the Government’s health protection levels, even at the properties closest to the road.
Comment: Construction of the scheme will cause chaos for many years.
Response: A current estimate for the duration of construction of the scheme can be found on the Transport Scotland website. The Contractor will determine details of the programme and may under the terms of the Contract, select alternative designs or construction methods to shorten the duration.
Traffic management has been considered in the development of the preliminary design for the proposed scheme to minimise disruption to through traffic. The Contract Documentation will stipulate that two lanes in each direction on the A80 are maintained from 6am to 8pm throughout the construction period. There will, however, be a requirement for a limited number of night-time lane closures during certain operations. Flows at these times will be low with the result that there will be minimal delays and consequently no diversion of traffic is anticipated. The implementation of traffic management measures will minimise the risk of congestion and it is therefore considered that there will be no significant diversion of traffic to the side road network during the construction period.
Comment: Safety at Castlecary Viaduct and the re-alignment of Castlecary Road.
Response: Safety is a key objective of the scheme. It is one of the five main objectives published for the scheme, along with environment, economy, integration and accessibility. As with all road schemes the development of the proposed route is the result of balancing all of these issues in order to achieve the optimum solution.
It is proposed that the Castlecary Viaduct piers adjacent to the carriageway will be provided with pier protection in the form of a high containment concrete barrier. Safety barriers will be connected flush to the pier protection thereby improving the safety characteristics for road users along this section of the road compared to the existing layout.
As part of the proposals at this location, the existing 30mph zone through the village will be extended to include the section of the side road through the viaduct and street lighting will be extended to Castlecary Junction. In addition we can confirm that an independent Road Safety Audit has been undertaken and the associated mitigation measures incorporated within the scheme proposals.
Comment: Return of traffic from three lanes to two lanes is unsafe and could create a bottleneck.
Response: The return to two lanes occurs at Low Wood Junction. This is one of the busiest junctions on the route, serving Cumbernauld town centre and surrounding areas. At the Junction, one lane will be dropped in the eastbound direction at the exit slip road, with one gained in the westbound direction at the entry slip. As a considerable volume of traffic enters and leaves the motorway at the junction in these dedicated lanes, the transition from two to three lanes is achieved safely, using the layout which has been subject to an independent Road Safety Audit.
Comment: Kelvin Valley Route offers the A80 as an alternative route if there was a serious accident.
Response: The A80 would be available as an alternative route, and this was taken account of during the route selection process. However, the inability to successfully mitigate the potentially adverse impacts associated with the Kelvin Valley route, led to the Scottish Ministers decision to opt for the on-line route, where impacts could be mitigated, as the preferred option. This decision was further reviewed and reaffirmed in 1999 in the Scottish Strategic Roads Review, which concluded that no further consideration would be given to the Kelvin Valley option.
It should also be noted that few sections of the Scottish motorway network have an alternative route to dual carriageway standard, and this does not appear to impair operational efficiency of the network.
Comment: The scheme design is substandard and unsafe.
Response: The specimen design of the scheme has been undertaken in accordance with the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) with safety as one of the five key objectives of the scheme design.
All safety issues have been carefully considered as an integral part of the design process. In addition we can confirm that an independent Road Safety Audit has been undertaken and the associated mitigation measures incorporated within the scheme proposals.
Comment: Adverse impact on the environment along the A80 route corridor.
Response: The proposed scheme will result in both beneficial and adverse impacts on the environment. In general, the majority of any adverse impacts, notably on the landscape, noise, air quality and agriculture, will occur along the off-line section of the proposed scheme, between Stepps and Mollinsburn. Impacts on the landscape will be most noticeable in the year the scheme opens although once the proposed planting has been established these impacts will be minimised. For the off-line section, noise mitigation is proposed to keep traffic noise levels as low as is reasonably practicable. The most significant benefits will be experienced along the section of the existing A80 to be by-passed by the scheme, in particular reduced noise, improved air quality and improved water quality as a result of the significant reduction in traffic levels.
The on-line section of the proposed scheme between Mollinsburn and Haggs will also lead to environmental benefits including a reduction in noise levels and improved water quality in adjacent watercourses as treatment methods under the proposed scheme will be much improved.