Holding the Central Belt together is the M80, a connection opening up access to Stirling, Perth, Dundee and all of Fife from Scotland's first city.
Branching off the M8 in the Glasgow suburbs, the M80 collects the entire traffic load of the M73 and carries it north-east to Cumbernauld. Then it splits, with the M80 proper taking traffic to the M9, which in turn leads to Perth, Aberdeen and the Highlands. The other fork, the M876, takes traffic over the Kincardine Bridge to Fife and the M90.
Considering that it performs such a vital strategic function, the M80 was unfinished for an awfully long time. The first section, from Haggs to the M9, opened in 1974, but it took a further 18 years for the next part to open. The Stepps Bypass arrived in 1992, beginning on the M8 and running through the Glasgow suburbs.
In between those two parts, from Stepps to Haggs, was the old A80 - a dual carriageway, yes, but plagued with traffic lights, local access points and the hideously congested Auchenkilns Roundabout. Part way along, the M73 merged in, adding considerably to its problems. Meanwhile the M80 remained in two parts, rather improbably finishing at junction 3 and resuming some considerable distance later at junction 4, as though the idea that the completed motorway might need any sort of junction for the M73 or the large town of Cumbernauld had never been considered.
The 12-mile section of A80 saw some upgrades in the intervening time, most notably the grade-separation at Auchenkilns in the early 2000s.
The proposals to finish the M80 continued to evolve, varying between an on-line upgrade of the A80 and a completely new route up the Kelvin valley to the north. Eventually approval was given for a modest upgrade scheme, and work was carried out to improve the A80 (but not widen it, except to add hard shoulders) to motorway standards. A new bypass of Moodiesburn was built, and junctions were improved. The original section was given new junction numbers. And after a 37 year wait, the M80 was finally completed in 2011.