The first and last east-west motorway north of the M62, the M8 links up Edinburgh and Glasgow in style. It starts at the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass, powers across Scotland's central belt almost in a straight line, and dives right into the absolute centre of Glasgow. The most audacious urban motorway in the UK then blasts a path through the city and out the other side, connecting with the Erskine Bridge before returning traffic to the A8 towards Greenock.

Otherwise completed in 1995 with the construction of the section from the M9 to its terminus at the A720, the M8 remained unfinished thanks to a glaring six-mile gap between Newhouse and Baillieston, and for decades Scotland's most important motorway was interrupted between junctions 6 and 8 by a section of old A8 dual carriageway that struggled to cope with its traffic load. This put it in the same club as the M74 and M80 as a Scottish motorway with a permanently missing section - but by 2011 those roads had been completed. The long-delayed M8 completion project has now delivered the goods, with the final section of this motorway opened in April 2017.

A string of public artworks were placed along the side of the M8 between Edinburgh and Glasgow during the 1990s, partly to add some interest to the journey, thanks to something called the M8 Art Project. At various points motorists catch sight of the Sawtooth Ramps, a row of four square grassy pyramids; the Heavy Horse, a wire mesh horse sculpture by the artist who went on to design the Kelpies; Big Heids, a row of three enormous red busts modelled on random people from the streets of Motherwell; and the strangest of all, The Horn, a tall curved horn mounted beside the motorway that can be heard playing music, poetry and quotations to passing traffic.

The section through central Glasgow is notorious and thrilling. It's manically busy, forming two sides of a never-finished inner ring road, and the mix of local, long-distance and commuter traffic can be a recipe for chronic congestion. It is five lanes wide in places, but at crucial points in the centre narrows down to two. The knotted tangle of junctions includes Britain's closest exits and more than one unusual right-hand sliproad. It was designed and built following the design guidance for American urban freeways, and it shows: the urban M8 is nothing like other UK motorways and instead is clearly and visibly straight out of Los Angeles. Glasgow is unique among the UK's major cities in having no ring road of any significance and instead carrying through traffic right through its heart.

Relief for the city centre section arrived not in the form of a ring road or bypass for Glasgow but instead with more urban motorway building - something unthinkable elsewhere in the UK but which happened here as recently as 2011. The new M74 extension was built to calm the M8's troubles, bypassing the central Glasgow section completely and allowing traffic travelling from one side of the city to the other to avoid the city centre for the very first time. It's mostly elevated, pushing its way through the industrial areas south of the Clyde.

Start
Edinburgh
End
Greenock
Passes
Glasgow, Paisley
Length
61 miles
Open Junctions Section
Nov 1965 J4-5 Harthill Bypass
Aug 1967 J5-6 Harthill → Newhouse
1968 J15-16 Glasgow IRR, Townhead section
Mar 1968 J26-29 Renfrew Bypass
Sep 1969 J3-4 Dechmont → Whitburn
1970 J19-20 Glasgow IRR, Kingston Bridge section
Dec 1970 J29-30 Bishopton Bypass Stage I
1971 J16-17 Glasgow IRR, Woodside section
May 1971 J2-3 Newbridge → Dechmont
1972 J18-19 Glasgow IRR, Charing Cross section
1972 J17-18 Glasgow IRR, Woodside → Charing Cross
May 1975 J12-15 Monkland Motorway Stage I
Nov 1975 J30-31 Bishopton Bypass Stage II
Oct 1977 J20-26 Renfrew Motorway
Jun 1979 J11-12 Monkland Motorway Stage IIa
Apr 1980 J8-9 Ballieston → Glasgow City Boundary
Apr 1980 J8-11 Monkland Motorway Stage IIb
Dec 1995 J1-2 Edinburgh City Bypass → Newbridge
Apr 2017 J6-8 Newhouse → Baillieston

Exit list

At some points in central Glasgow junction numbering is independent for each carriageway.

Junction   Eastbound               Westbound  
1 City Bypass (N)
A720 Link
City Bypass (S)
A720 Link
City Centre
(A71)




A720
EAST




A71

A720

A71
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
2 Forth Road Bridge
Stirling
M9 Link (A90)
M9
(A90)
Forth Road Bridge
Stirling
M9 Link (A90)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 2 lanes 5 miles, 2 lanes
3 Livingston
A899
A899 A899 Livingston
A899
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
3A Bathgate
Broxburn (A89)
Livingston (W)
(A779)
A89

A89

A7066
A779 Bathgate
Livingston (W)
A779 (A89)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
4 Bathgate
Whitburn
Falkirk
A801
A801 A801 Bathgate
Whitburn
Falkirk
A801
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
4A Heartlands
Whitburn
Heartlands
Whitburn
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
Services Harthill Services Harthill
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
5 Shotts
B7075
Harthill
(B7066)
(B7075)
(B7066)
Shotts
B7075
Harthill
(B7066)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 2 lanes 5 miles, 2 lanes
6


A73



A73
Airdrie
Lanark
A73
Motherwell
Wishaw (A723)
Eurocentral
LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
6 Chapelhall
Holytown B799
Airdrie
Lanark (A73)
B799

B802
B799
(A723)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes  
7 Eurocentral

A8
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
7A A725 A725
(M74)
Belshill
East Kilbride
A725
Carlisle (M74 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  2 miles, 3 lanes
8 Carlisle
M73 Link (M74 Link)
Coatbridge
A8
M73
(M80)



A8

M73
(M74)

A8(M)

A8

Glasgow (E)
A8(M) Link
Carlisle
Glasgow (SE)
Glasgow Airport
M73 Link (M74 Link)
Stirling
Kincardine Bridge
M73 Link (M80 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes  
9 Springhill
Baillieston
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
10 Easterhouse
Barlanark
Easterhouse
Springhill
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
11 Garthamlock
Queenslie
B765
B765 B765 Stepps
Queenslie
B765
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
12 Riddrie
Stepps
A80
B765

A80
A80 Riddrie
Stepps
A80
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
13 Stirling
Kincardine Bridge
M80 Link
M80 Blochairn
Parkhead
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 5 lanes  
14 Blochairn
Dennistoun
B763
B763
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 5 lanes 2 miles, 5 lanes
15 Cathedral
Glasgow Cross
Kirkintilloch
Springburn
A803
(A804)

A803
A8

A8



Cathedral
Glasgow Cross
A803
Kirkintilloch
(A803)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 4 lanes 0.5 miles, 5 lanes
16

A879


A804
Aberfoyle (A81)
George Square
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  0.5 miles, 4 lanes
17 A81



Dumbarton
A82
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  0.1 miles, 3 lanes
18
4.0 km
A82 Charing Cross
Kelvingrove
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.2 miles, 2 lanes  
17 Dumbarton
A82
Aberfoyle
(A81)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.4 miles, 3 lanes 0.5 miles, 3 lanes
18 Anderston
Charing Cross
City Centre
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.1 miles, 1+3 lanes 0.1 miles, 3+2 lanes
19 Clydebank
SECC
A814



A814


(A814)



A814


(A814)
Clydebank
SECC
A814
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2+3 lanes  
River or canal Clyde River or canal Clyde
  0.5 miles, 5 lanes
20 (A730)

East Kilbride
(A730)
City Centre (S)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
M74 J1 East Kilbride
Carlisle
M74 Link
East Kilbride
(A730)
Tradeston
A8




(A8)
(A8)
(A8)






M74
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3+3 lanes  
21 Kinning Park
Kilmarnock (M77 Link)
Greenock (M8)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3+3 lanes 2 miles, 3+3 lanes
22 East Kilbride
Carlisle
M74 Link
Tradeston (A8)
Kinning Park
M77





Kilmarnock
Prestwick Airport
M77 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 4 lanes 1 mile, 2+2 lanes
23 B768


B768


Govan
B768
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 3 lanes 0.5 miles, 3 lanes
24 Govan
A761
(A8) (A761) Paisley
A761
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 3 lanes 0.5 miles, 3 lanes
25 Clyde Tunnel
A739

A739
A739

Clyde Tunnel
A739
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 4 lanes 0.7 miles, 4 lanes
25A Braehead
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
  0.3 miles, 4 lanes
26 Govan
A8
Hillington
A736
A736
(A8)
A736 Renfrew
A8
Hillington
A736
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 3 lanes 2 miles, 3 lanes
27 Paisley
Renfrew
A741
A741 A741 Paisley
Renfrew
A741
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1.5 miles, 3 lanes  
River or canal White Cart Water River or canal White Cart Water
  1 mile, 3 lanes
28 Airport Glasgow Airport
Signs LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
  0.5 miles, 3 lanes
28A Irvine
A737
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.2 miles, 2 lanes 0.2 miles, 2 lanes
29 Glasgow Airport
Paisley A726
Irvine
A737
A726


A726

A737


Paisley
A726
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
30 Erskine Bridge
Erskine
M898 Link
M898 Erskine Bridge
Erskine
M898 Link
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
31 Bishopton
A8
Glasgow
M8

A8
WEST
A8


Greenock
A8
Bishopton
A8
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
Routes

With thanks to Paul McCulloch, John Prentice, Alistair Stewart, Kev, Allan McPhail, Ian Bailey, Ashley Sharp, Andrew Hamilton, Fraser, Brian Smith and Phil for information on this page.