Dennyloanhead to Bowtrees
The M876 is a short motorway located north of Falkirk. A bypass and distributor, it acts as the northern flank of the central Scotland motorway box. Interchanging with the M80 and M9, and with connections to the Clackmannanshire and Kincardine Bridge's, it is of strategic importance. Much of the route was devised in the 1950s, with the western end built to dual carriageway standards in the early 1960s. It was completed in 1980, amongst the last of Scotland's "original" motorway schemes.
The western half of the M876 was constructed as part of the A876 Bonnybridge and Larbert Diversion scheme, a dual carriageway built in the mid-1960s. The project was developed as part of improvements to the A80 north of Cumbernauld. In the late 1960s, as plans for central Scotland’s road system were finalised, it was decided to extend the road eastwards and for the entire route to be classified as a motorway.
Planners realised that a new motorway in this corridor would create a strategic link between the M80 and M9 as well as provide a northern bypass of Falkirk. Improved links to the Kincardine Bridge and industrial facilities at Grangemouth were also considered essential.
M876 Construction Summary
Bankhead to North Broomage
M80 - 2
22nd May 1974
North Broomage to Bowtrees
2 - 3
15th February 1980
19th November 2008
Junction 2 (East Facing Slips)
Work to upgrade the western section between Bankhead and North Broomage was undertaken in 1973 and 1974 by contractor Leonard Fairclough Ltd. The £1.1 million project was added to their existing contract to construct part of Stage 2 of the M9 Stirling Bypass. Hard shoulders were constructed in each direction, though these are discontinuous over underbridges. As part of the contract an allowance was made for the eastward extension.
Construction of the eastern section from North Broomage to Bowtrees began in May 1977. The project, which included a short length of the M9, was built by Tarmac Construction at a cost of £8.3 million. It was opened to traffic on 15th February 1980.
Junctions on the M876 are numbered from west to east, from the M80 at Junction 8 (Bankhead) to Junction 3 (Bowtrees). The motorway is built to rural standards and has dual two lanes in each direction except for its brief multiplex with the M9. Here it increases to three lanes to allow for traffic weaving and merging. Hardshoulders are provided along its entire length except at the Denny Road and Drove Loan underbridges.
At its western end the motorway is bounded by Denny to the north and Bonnybridge to the south. Junction 1 (Checkbar) is a full access junction, though its slip roads are staggered over approximately 1km. East of Checkbar the motorway passes through agricultural land and climbs a steep gradient. Much of this stretch is built in cutting with an open spandrel arch accommodation bridge a highlight on reaching the top of the hill.
Junction 2 (North Broomage) has been a full access junction since 2012. East facing slip roads were constructed to facilitate access to the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Historically only west facing slips were available, terminating at North Broomage Roundabout on the A9. As noted above, this junction marked the eastern terminus of the original A876, upgraded to motorway in 1974. The original all-purpose dual carriageway was constructed between September 1963 and October 1965 by J. Drysdale & Co. at a cost of £1.4 million. Unusually for a UK motorway, a pedestrian footway crosses the carriageway a short distance west of the roundabout.
Between North Broomage and the M9 Junction 8 (Hill of Kinaird) the motorway crosses the main Stirling railway line and is bounded to the south by Stenhousemuir. The motorways merge via a large forked slip road arrangement with the carriageways temporarily widening to three lanes in each direction. For more information on this section read our page on the M9. Around one mile to the east, at the M9 Junction 7 (Kinaird House), the motorways diverge once again.
The M876 continues for a further mile before terminating at Junction 3 (Bowtrees). The junction, originally an at-grade roundabout, was grade separated in 2007 as part of the construction of the Clackmannanshire Bridge. The route continues uninterrupted from this point as the A876. A small service area comprising a BP garage and Premier Inn hotel are signed from the motorway at this location.
From the Archive
This article was first published in September 2022.