A83 Rest and Be Thankful to be re-routed to avert repeated landslip closures

Eleven options to provide a “long-term solution” include new sections of the road within Glen Croe in Argyll.

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 2:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 4:03 pm
The Old Military Road diversion route runs parallel to the A83 on the hillside above it. Picture: Transport Scotland.
The Old Military Road diversion route runs parallel to the A83 on the hillside above it. Picture: Transport Scotland.

No details have been published as part of the announcement today but they could include tunnels and bridges.

Options could also include upgrading of the current landslip diversion route – the Old Military Road – parallel to the A83 further down the glen, but this has not been confirmed.

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They comprise 11 “corridors” within Gen Croe, where the roads run, which could include re-routing all or part of the A83, the main link between Glasgow, southern Argyll and Kintyre.

Repairs are ongoing following a 6,000-tonne landslip which blocked the A83 on 4 Aug. Picture: BEAR Scotland.

The project would be on a completely different scale to mitigation measures such as debris “catch pits” built after previous landslips.

The plans have been accelerated following one of the biggest landslips for years which has blocked the A83 since 4 Aug.

Repairs are continuing after some 6,000 tonnes of debris engulfed the road.

Drivers are expected to be diverted via the Old Military Road for another week.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said the options “covered a variety of potential approaches to improving the resilience of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, including re-routing the road and structures within Glen Croe”.

It said the options would be published in a few weeks’ time with a choice to made in the spring.

‘Frustration and disruption’

The agency said: “A dedicated project team is being established to undertake more detailed environmental and engineering assessment.

Meantime, work on more catch pits will start next month.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “I understand the frustration and disruption landslips at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful bring for local communities and drivers.

“While our previous investment in catch pits has helped keep the road open for an estimated 48 days when it would otherwise have closed, I realise people are looking for a long-term solution to dealing with landslips.

“I have instructed officials at Transport Scotland to accelerate our work to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83.

"We will publish recommendations for a preferred corridor in spring 2021.

Mitigation

“This work underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure Argyll and Bute remains open for business.”

Transport Scotland said more than £13.6m has been spent on mitigation measures.

It has included seven catch pits with a total capacity of almost 28,000 tonnes.

Debris netting, drainage improvement, enhancement to slope vegetation and culvert improvements were also made in 2013 and 2014.

Land has been bought so trees can be planted next autumn to help stabilise the hillside.

Argyll and Bute Council described the announcement as a “step in the right direction” but urges “further commitment to the urgent delivery of a solution”.

‘Relieved’

Leader Aileen Morton said: “Our communities along with the council have lobbied Scottish Government for over a decade asking them to find a permanent solution to the ongoing issues that affect our major trunk road.

“Whilst we are relieved there is now a recognised case for investment and a commitment to move away from temporary mitigation measures, we still need construction timescales and a date for the new route to open.

"It is simply not enough to talk about the options and agree a consultation phase.

“For years, closure of the A83 has seriously impacted our communities.

"The early signs are encouraging but we must see swift progress maintained until the new route is fully operational.”

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