Night vision – Argyll’s single track trunk road

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The door closes today – October 30 – on a five-week public consultation on alternative routes avoiding the troublesome Rest and be Thankful.

As the Transport Scotland consultation ends, the need for a permanent solution was underlined when trunk road management firm BEAR Scotland announced that the single track old military road detour would be used every night, under convoy, until the end of November for safety reasons.

By that point a barrier to intercept material tumbling down the hillside on to the A83 should be complete as part of ongoing ‘mitigation’ measures.

In the latest in a long series of such events over recent years, two significant landslides hit the A83 at the Rest in August and September. This left the slopes of Beinn Luibhean heavily scarred and exposed to further erosion, with loose material present both on the hillside and within a newly-formed channel directly above the road.

Heavy rain has been the main threat, and BEAR Scotland revealed that around 150mm (six inches) of rain fell in a week from Sunday October 18, with some debris and silt reaching catch-pits next to the A83.

Eddie Ross of BEAR Scotland said:  ‘We’re continuing to put motorist safety first, and as more seasonal wet weather approaches we have taken the decision to close the A83 each night from 6pm overnight as a safety precaution.

‘The old military road will be used overnight for all road users with an inspection taking place at first light in the morning ahead of a potential reopening on the A83 under traffic signal control.’

All of which throws the spotlight on the need for an alternative, and Transport Scotland last month unveiled 11 options for public consideration.

Argyll and Bute Council last week came out in favour of the pragmatic option of Option one – a road up the other side of Glen Croe.

Council leader Robin Currie said: ‘After years of disruption, we now have the promise of a permanent solution, but we also need a commitment that our preferred option can be delivered within the term of the next Scottish Parliament.’

The council is also calling for greater investment along the whole of the A83 trunk road and, longer-term, consideration of a more ambitious route along the lines of option five, linking Helensburgh area with Lochgilphead and involving bridge crossings over Loch Long and Loch Fyne.