In 1994 Strathclyde Regional Council’s plans for the "Ayr Road Route" were finalised and a design and build construction contract was awarded to Wimpey Construction (later Tarmac). The works were valued at £53 Million. Work commenced in early 1995 on a dual two lane motorway with hard shoulders on a route southwards along the western perimeter of Pollok Country Park, past Darnley and terminating on the A77 to the south of Newton Mearns. Four junctions were included in the design: three full access junctions at Dumbreck, Pollok and Darnley and one limited access junction with north facing slip roads at Newton Mearns. The original flat roundabout at Dumbreck (photo above) was removed entirely and a new partial-cloverleaf-diamond hybrid junction was construted. The road opened to traffic on December 6th 1996.
In the early 1990s road building schemes across the UK were being viewed with increased hostility and resistance by local communities. This hostility was supported by national direct action groups such as Earth First and Green Peace and in the case of the M77 Ayr Road Route project – the Pollok Free State.
Before construction began a large number of protesters (mainly from England) set up camp and occupied vast areas of Pollok Country Park. The Protesters were concerned by the negative impact the road would have on the health of local communities as well as environmental damage caused to the local area. A rigorous environmental impact assessment by Strathclyde Regional Council sought to ensure that minimum damage be caused to the park by building the motorway along its extreme western edge and not through its centre. These plans won the support of the National Trust.
In early 1995 Wimpey attempted to begin site clearance works, including works to prepare the route through woodland areas on the edge of Pollok Country Park. They were met with massive resistence as protesters chained themselves to trees, machinery and even the contractors workforce. A large security and police operation was conducted to remove them with pitched battles fought in many places. The protests were widely reported in the media and successfully rallied local communities to become involved and hamper construction efforts. One notable incident saw the roads design office of Strathclyde Regional Council on Cadogan Street occupied by protesters as they forced entry into the building.
Activists of the Pollok Free State became increasingly militant and continued to clash with police, security and proponents of the road. Local Conservative MP Allan Stewart was forced to resign a Government post after he personally confronted several protestors while brandishing a pickaxe. Increasing acts of violence, obstruction, vandalism, theft and arson marred the entire M77 direct action movement which ultimately failed in its goal to stop the motorway being constructed. Protesters were forcibly removed from the site and Pollok Free state was dismantled. This was the first, biggest and to date, the last direct action movement to delay a road being build in Scotland.
In December 1996 the highly controversial route opened with the simultaneous completion of the two stages. The first, between Dumbreck and the Glasgow City Boundary, was originally promoted by Strathclyde Regional Council. The second, from the boundary to Malletsheugh, was promotedby the Scottish Office. The completed motorway provided much relief to the local communities adjacent to the A77 it bypassed and reduced journey times between Glasgow and Ayrshire.
The M77 is the primary arterial route between Glasgow and Ayrshire. At almost 18 miles in length, the road was constructed in three sections between 1981 and 2005.
First proposed in "A Highway Plan for Glasgow", it was cancelled in the late 70s with the exception of a short spur to Dumbreck Road. It was resurrected a decade later due to political pressure, and the final scheme, which opened in 2005, replaced a section of the A77 that was ridiculously outdated and had a horrific safety record.
LOCATION: The M77 motorway links the M8 at J22 with the A77 Kilmarnock Bypass. It was built in three stages which are detailed below.
DUMBRECK ROAD CONNECTION
Completed: August 1981
Designer: Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick
Contractor: Whatlings (Civil Engineering) Ltd
Cost: £4.5 million (£16.5 million in 2017)
M77 MALLETSHEUGH TO FENWICK:
Completed: April 27th 2005
Contractor: Connect Roads (also maintenance contractor until 2035)
Cost: £75 million (£106 million in 2017)
LENGTH: 18 miles
M77 AYR ROAD ROUTE
Completed: December 6th 1996
Designer: Strathclyde Regional Council/Babtie Group
Contractor: Wimpey (later Tarmac)
Cost: £53 million (£95 million in 2017)
In the north the motorway originates from the large Plantation junction on the M8 (J21-J22). Large east-facing flyovers carry the motorway above the M8 and were constructed as part of the Renfrew Motorway which opened to traffic in 1976. The M77 heads in a southerly direction with three lanes on the southbound carriageway and two lanes northbound. At Dumbreck (Junction 1), which was terminus of the road from 1981 to 1996, there is a full access "Partial Cloverleaf" interchange that provides local access to Dumbreck, Mosspark and Pollokshaws.
From here the motorway continues as two lanes in each direction and skirts the edge of Pollok County Park before reaching the half diamond interchange at Pollok (Junction 2). This interchange was modified recently and provides access to Pollok County Park and the large Silverburn Shopping Centre. A further partial cloverleaf interchange at Darnley (Junction 3) provides access to the A727 and Darnley.
South of junction 3 the motorway crosses the Glasgow boundary with East Renfrewshire and begins to climb a steep gradient as it continues towards Ayrshire and becomes a rural motorway. A limited access junction for the town of Newton Mearns (Junction 4) is passed before the motorway interchanges with the A726 Glasgow Southern Orbital Route (Junction 5). The Motorway continues south through rural countryside and moorland to Fenwick (Junction 8) and proceeds as the A77 all-purpose-route.
Plans for improved road connections between Glasgow and Ayrshire had been considered on a number of occasions in studies such as the Abercrombie Report of 1949. "A Highway Plan for Glasgow", published in 1965, was the first to make any serious proposals.
In 1961 initial sketches of the route of the Inner Ring Road included plans for a full access triangle junction on the proposed south flank with a connection to a route entitled “The South Motorway”. Traffic studies determined that the proximity of other planned junctions on the south flank would create significant congestion problems due to weaving traffic. As a result it was decided that the South Motorway should be relocated westwards and connect with the Renfrew Motorway instead. This led to the design of the large braided interchange at Plantation which today links the M77, M8 and M74. The South Motorway was renamed as “The Ayr Motorway” and this designation remained until the plans were scaled back in the late 1970s.
The Ayr Motorway was proposed as a north to south route running as far as the A77 at Newton Mearns. It was proposed as a mix of two, three and four lane sections with hardshoulders throughout and occupied the route of the current M77. It was antcipated the route would interchange with two further motorways - the South Link Motorway and the "C" Ring Motorway (later the Paisley - Hamilton Motorway). At Dumbreck Road a large full access clover-stack interchange with the South Link was proposed. A similar arranement was planned for the Paisley - Hamilton route.
Construction of the motorway was planned to take place in two stages. Stage 1 between the Renfrew Motorway and Dumbreck Road was was programmed for completion before 1975 with Stage 2 planned for the period 1975-1980. By the time the GGTS was published in 1967 Stage 1 was already committed. A number of public exhibitions and engagement exercises were undertaken in the early 1970s where some opposition to plans for the road to be constructed through Pollok Park were heard.
Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick published several detailed studies on the Ayr Motorway in 1975 with mitigation measures for the park. Strathclyde Regional Council ultimately decided to shelve plans for Stage 2 due to public opposition, but to proceed with Stage 1 albeit to a lesser specification and with the name "Dumbreck Road Connection". Further details on the Ayr Motorway can be found within the Great Unbuilt Section.
On October 15th 1976 Renfrew Motorway opened to traffic. This included the large quad-carriageway multi-lane interchange at Plantation with two “go-nowhere” flyovers. These went unused until work on the Dumbreck Road Connection (previously Ayr Motorway Stage 1) began.
Construction on the Dumbreck Road Connection started in April 1979 and was completed in mid-1981. It was constructed with two lanes and no hard shoulders and ended on a large roundabout. This spur route did not have a route number initially and was designated “(M8)” on northbound signage' it was for all intents and purposes a same-number spur of the M8.
The terminus on Dumbreck Road and the odd classification of the route is speculated to have been a result of major opposition to Glasgow’s expanding motorway network. Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick who designed the scheme was told to avoid flaired slip roads or a layout which would give the impression of inevitable expansion southwards. Behind closed doors this was of course the plan but it was built in such a way that it wasn’t obvious that it was to be extended in the future.
By the late 1980s, and with increasing congestion on the A77 through Glasgow's southside, Strathclyde Regional Council (with Scottish Office and Ayrshire political support) reintroduced plans for an extension of the route to Newton Mearns.