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A823(M) Motorway

Dunfermline Spur

The A823(M) is one of the UK's shortest motorways and one of its highest numbered. It was officially opened to traffic in September 1964, constructed as part of the Forth Road Bridge north approach roads.


Technically a spur of the M90, it runs for a short distance from Junction 2 (Masterton) to the at-grade Pitreavie Roundabout north of Rosyth. The motorway is used by traffic heading for the city of Dunfermline and northwest Fife.

A823(M) motorway - Looking east towards the M90 at Masterton (2022).

Route History

Proposals for what became the A823(M) grew from post war studies conducted by Fife County Council. These highlighted the need for a new road bridge across the Firth of Forth and improved connections to Perthshire and between the east and west of the county.


As the plans evolved the route became known as the East Fife Regional Road (EFRR), a new high quality road linking Dunfermline with the coastal towns of Burntisland and Kirkcaldy. A western section was also envisaged, forming part of the Rosyth Bypass and providing a faster link to the Kincardine Bridge. An interchange between the route and the new M90 motorway was proposed at Masterton.


In the late 1950s, it was decided that the southernmost part of the motorway, including the Masterton Interchange and the first section of the EFRR should be constructed as part of the Forth Road Bridge. Work commenced on site in February 1961 and was largely completed in March 1964, though the road did not open until September. Plans for the EFRR were later revised with the road built in a new corridor to the north. This is now the A92 between Halbeath and Kirkcaldy. The Rosyth Bypass remains unfinished, though as recently as 2020 was stated to be a priority for Fife Council.


The A823(M) was designed by consultant Mott Hay and Anderson in conjunction with Fife County Council. The main contractor was Glasgow based civil engineering firm, Whatlings Ltd. The total cost of the project was £1.4 million, equivalent to around £20 million in today's prices.

A823(M) Construction Summary



Opening Date

Dunfermline Spur

Masterton to Pitreavie Roundabout

4th September 1964

Route Overview

The A823(M) has no numbered junctions, terminating on the at-grade Pitreavie Roundabout at its western end. It has two lanes in each direction and no hard shoulders, though emergency laybys can be found midway along the route on each carriageway. 


The motorway has free-flow connections to and from the M90 at Masterton, its eastern end. Several bridges constructed to allow for the eastward extension of the East Fife Regional Road can be seen on approach from the west. Overhead sign gantries and variable message signs were constructed in 2012 in advance of completion of the Queensferry Crossing.

A823(M) motorway - Leaving the northbound M90 at Masterton (2022).
A823(M) motorway - Aerial view from the east (2022).

This article was first published in September 2022.

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