The Motorway Archive
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What is the Motorway Archive?
Work on developing the UK Motorway system, which transformed British travel, started in the mid-1950s. The Motorway Archive celebrates the engineering achievement involved in the conception, planning, design and construction of this transport network by thousands of dedicated professionals. The Archive itself is a collection of as many of the documents and artefacts, which were associated with the development, as it has been possible to find. From this wealth of material has come the story of each motorway developed in Britain over the last 50 years. This is the story of one of them.

Region: Scotland

M77. Ayr Road Route


The joint SRC/Scottish Office M77 Ayr Road route, on an innovative "design, build and commission" contract, sought to combine the efficiencies of design and build with more efficient financing than then available under the "design, build, finance and operate model". Containing the contract price to 50m, 25% of which was to be paid as retention for trouble-free service over the first 3 years of operation, allowed Ministers to offer the Council ring fenced funding to supplement their pressed resources and for the scheme to proceed. Alan Stewart, the Minister of State and local constituency MP was a prime mover.

M77 extension. Malletsheugh (J5) to Fenwick

In March 2003 work commenced on the upgrading of the A77 to motorway standard between the current termination at Malletsheugh (J5), and the Kilmarnock by-pass near Fenwick. The preferred bidder for the DBFO contract was the Connect consortium made up of consultant WS Atkins plc with contractor Balfour Beatty. For Connect to collect their first full instalment of the 30 year pay back period, they needed to complete construction of the new roads by 30 April 2005, and the upgrade of the existing A77 by August 2005. As with any PFI project the payback was performance related - 80% is based on lane availability and 20% is on traffic volumes. Connect Road Operators will carry out maintenance over the concession period.

The construction cost of this 25 km scheme (which includes a section of all-purpose dual carriageway) was estimated to be approximately 132 million. Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering constructed both new sections of road in a 24 month contract.

tarmac's on-site quarry

Whilst under construction, this was the biggest road project in Scotland - employing up to 1,000 staff on site. This new section of M77, which included an interchange at Kingswell, was mainly made up of new construction. Only two sections sat on existing highway - the 2.5km Fenwick stretch of road at the southern end of the M77 extension overlay the existing A77, and the 700m long Philipshill flyover was built over the existing A726. As these two sections intersected with live traffic they proved an exciting challenge to main contractor Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering and subcontractor Morrison, who had been awarded a substantial proportion of the M77 construction work.

Widening the existing road meant extending its width to provide a hard shoulder, creating a 25m wide dual lane highway in each direction. The road was then resurfaced to motorway standard. This section of the work was critical as it was the last major piece of construction remaining and only the possibility of deep snow was ever likely to affect the final opening date. Making the project wholly weatherproof proved to be impossible, but use was made of imported fill rather than relying on the existing ground to be dry enough.

Across the site 3Mm3 of excavation was required to level out the undulating topography. The earthworks proved to be the biggest challenge overall - with poor quality, small volumes of rock and saturated soil. This was largely overcome by adding lime which made the soil an acceptable fill material.

Rock for fill and surfacing was won locally. Tarmac Roadstone set up a quarry on site, near North Floak which provided up to 200,000t of material a month.

Contract details

Dumbreck – City of Glasgow BoundarySRCWimpey/Tarmac (now Carrilion Construction)
City of Glasgow Boundary - MalletsheughSRCWimpey/Tarmac (now Carrilion Construction)
Malletsheugh - KilmarnockW S AtkinsBalfour Beatty Civ Eng

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