Upgrade of the existing A74 dual carriageway between the terminus of the M6 at Greymoorhill to the Scottish Border, where the A74(M) commences, to dual three-lane plus hard shoulder motorway standard, including the replacement of a railway bridge and construction of a new parallel service road.
It will close the "Cumberland Gap" where six miles of sub-standard dual carriageway connects two modern three lane motorways.
There is speculation that the A74 number will be replaced with M6, and upon completion, the A74(M) and M74 in Scotland will assume the M6 number to provide a consistently numbered cross-border route. It seems far more likely that the M6/A74(M)/M74 route number sequence will remain for the forseeable future.
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The upgrade is officially approved, following the public inquiry in the Autumn, and work is due to start shortly. The cost has rised by Â£104m since the contractor was named in 2003.
Construction work has now started on-site, with contractors' facilities set up on the Longtown Ministry of Defence site.
Site clearance is now well underway, earthworks have been started and heavy plant moved into place near structures.
Bridgeworks are now well underway at the River Esk and the West Coast Mainline railway. Extensive earthworks are also underway for the widening work.
Traffic is now using the new railway bridge, meaning that the old one can be decommissioned and demolished.
The scheme is now almost complete with just surfacing, line painting, barrier works etc to be completed.
The new road is to be officially opened today by Transport Minister Andrew Adonis on the 50th anniversary of motorways in the UK. Works continue off-line; in particular, the removal of the old Mossband Viaduct will not be complete until the Christmas shutdown of the railway.
Contractor is named as Carillion. Detailed design work begins.
The Highways Agency's planned timetable is to publish orders in Autumn 2004, hold the public inquiry in Autumn 2005 and start work in Spring 2006.