Fifty years of UK motorways hailed

Fifty years of British motorways are being celebrated with the opening of the £174-million Carlisle to Guards Mill extension of the M6 in Cumbria.

It was the opening of the eight-mile Preston bypass in Lancashire on December 5, 1958 - itself now part of the M6 - that heralded the beginning of our motorway network.

With the closing of the `Cumberland Gap`, it will now be possible to use motorways to travel all the way from southern England to Glasgow.

Work on the new 5.8-mile `missing link`, which replaces the A74, started in July 2006 and included a new bridge over the River Esk.

Opening the extension, transport minister Lord Adonis said: "In half a century, motorways have become the backbone of the UK's road network, making an invaluable contribution to our business and economic needs and helping keep friends and family connected.

"That is why we are investing in a safe, reliable and sustainable motorway network for the 21st century. It is a fitting tribute to the pioneers whose foresight began the motorway era exactly 50 years ago that the very same motorway is being extended."

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