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St. James Interchange to Kilwinning

Glasgow Motorway Archive - A737 Map

The A737 is the main route to North Ayrshire from the M8 motorway. The northern sections of the route have origins in the comprehensive road studies of the 1960s which called for improved infrastructure around Renfrewshire's new industrial sites. Between Elliston and Kilwinning the route is rural in nature and features only single carriageway.


The A737 number was initially allocated to a different route, running through Elderslie, Paisley and eastwards to Glasgow along Paisley Road West. Historically, the A737 terminated at Bridgeton Cross where it met the A74. It wasn’t until the completion of Johnstone – Howwood Bypass in 1993 that the route number was assigned the A737 number. The number A740 which had been used on the Linclive Link was abandoned at this time. The road is a primary route that is maintained by Transport Scotland as a trunk road.

Aerial photo of the A737 at Linwood in 1993.

At its northern end, the A737 is a high speed dual carriageway with grade-separated junctions. The section between Linwood and Elliston was completed in the early 1990s following years of planning and delay.

Plans for the construction of a dual carriageway route between the M8 and Howwood were first considered with the publication of the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study in 1967. The plans recommended the construction of  a "Johnstone Motorway” along the line of the present route. The first section (to Linwood) was built as the Linclive Link Road. With the shelving of many of the GGTS proposals it remained incomplete until 1993.


The need for this route was re-emphasised in traffic studies carried out in the 1980s by Strathclyde Regional Council. The scheme was eventually given the go ahead and construction commenced in 1989 on a grade-separated high speed dual carriageway bypass for Linwood, Johnstone, Kilbarchan and Howwood following roughly the same line as the proposed “Johnstone Motorway”.

The A740 Linclive Link Road was the first section of the current A737 to open to traffic. It was built as an extension of the M8 Renfrew Bypass. When it was completed on the 29th of November 1968 at a cost of £500,000 it provided a connection between the new motorway and Linwood. Like the M8 Renfrew Bypass, it was designed by Crouch and Hogg and constructed by a joint venture of contractors Peter Lind and Marples Ridgeway. It was built as all purpose dual two lane carriageway. The route was initially envisaged as being built to motorway standards.

A737 Construction Summary



Opening Date

Linclive Link Road


29th November 1968

Linwood to Kilbarchan


March 1992

Kilbarchan to Elliston


28th May 1993

The Johnstone – Howwood Bypass is a relatively modern section of road that starts at the Linwood Interchange and ends west of Howwood. At 8.7km long, the section between Linwood and Kilbarchan is all purpose dual carriageway complete with grade separated junctions at Kilbarchan, Barrochan and Linwood. 


The bypass was constructed between 1989 and 1993 and was opened to traffic on Friday 28th May by Councillor Malcolm Waugh of Strathclyde Regional Council. Costing £34 million, the main works were carried out in two phases. The first phase (between Linwood and Kilbarchan) was awarded to R.J. Lavack in October 1989 and completed in March 1992. The second phase (the single carriageway section between Kilbarchan and Elliston) commenced in July 1992 and was constructed by Balfour Beatty.


The junctions on the bypass are grade separated to allow for uninterrupted traffic flow. The first is Linwood interchange. This junction was previously an at-grade roundabout where the A740 Linclive spur ended; however it was designed to allow for future connections to the south west. The junction is now a roundabout interchange with the A737 passing over on a fixed beam viaduct with the non-trunk A761 underneath. It provides a connection to Linwood and the busy Phoenix Retail Park. The interchange also serves a large industrial estate and logistics depot resulting in high numbers of HGV's travelling to and from the M8.


The construction of the bypass occurred during an environmentally sensitive time and much effort was made to reduce the roads impact on the local communities it served. The road was landscaped and many trees were planted along its corridor with pedestrian/cycle overbridges provided to reduce severance. Funding for the A737 Johnstone – Howwood Bypass was provided by the Regional Council with grant assistance from the European Regional Development fund through the Strathclyde Integrated Development Operation. The final cost for the 8.6km bypass by the end of the contract was £34 million.

A bypass of Dalry, the main town along the route corridor, was completed in 2019. This was completed in conjunction with other local improvements to the road alignment. It has removed through traffic from the town centre, reduced accidents and allowed for the installation of new active travel measures.

This article was first published in December 2020.

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