A NEW access route to the Forth Road Bridge from the west was opened today with the completion of an upgraded junction on the M9 two months early.
The £25.6 million contract also includes new mandatory variable speed limits in the vicinity.
Transport minister Keith Brown opened the improved junction 1a, near Kirkliston, which provides motorway traffic to and from Falkirk and Glasgow with direct access to the bridge for the first time.
The junction, which will provide access to the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) when it opens in 2016, previously only had slip roads to and from the east. It is hoped traffic on nearby roads will be reduced as a result.
The project also includes a new “intelligent transport system” on the M9 between junctions one and two, and on the M9 spur towards the Forth Road Bridge, which is being renamed the M90.
This involves variable speed limits displayed on overhead gantries, which can be reduced during disruption to help maintain traffic flow.
Mr Brown said of the junction work: “Although a key part of the FRC project, it represents a significant improvement to Scotland’s road network in its own right.
“Completing M9 junction 1a means drivers will now have much improved, motorway-standard connections between the current road bridge and the M9, improving accessibility to West Lothian and traffic coming from the south and west via the M8.