Fears of ‘unprecedented landslide’ sees OMR and A83 remain shut

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The Old Military Road and A83 will remain closed Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday as a safety precaution after a large area of material was seen slowly advancing down the steep channel above the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, BEAR Scotland has said this afternoon. 

Following days of heavy rain, highways officials remain concerned that due to the saturated hillside and on-going movement, a sudden landslide of ‘unprecedented scale’ could occur.

The material, which consists of soil, mud and large boulders, has been gradually moving down the steep slope, it said.

Teams have been monitoring its progress using CCTV stations across the hillside as well as markers to observe any changes in position, it said.

In recent days the movement of material has accelerated even during drier spells and there is concerns that further heavy rain could cause a sudden failure, the statement added.

While minor movements on the hillside are frequently observed by geotechnical teams, the scale of the material and gradual steady advancement of the debris in an area of deep soil is causing concern.

It said for safety, the OMR and A83 will remain closed overnight tonight (Tuesday) and throughout Wednesday while teams continue to monitor the hillside.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north west representative said: ‘Teams have been actively monitoring the hillside since August and in recent days have noticed a particular area which has been advancing down the steep channel formed during the major landslips in August and September.

‘While no significant volume of material has reached the A83 yet we’re concerned that due to the saturated hillside and on-going movement a sudden landslide of unprecedented scale could occur.

‘As a safety precaution the OMR and A83 will remain closed overnight tonight and throughout Wednesday while we monitor the material as it moves down the steep channel.  Our teams will continue to patrol the route and assist with any issues to ensure traffic is kept moving.

‘We very much appreciate the impacts being felt by local communities and business as a result of the ongoing situation on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.

‘We are doing all we can to provide the public with the most up to date information and are doing what we believe is necessary to protect road users.

‘We’ll continue to put safety first and do everything we can to address the ongoing situation at the Rest.’

All traffic will continue to be diverted between Tarbet and Inveraray via the A82, A85 and A819.

BEAR Scotland said it has teams patrolling across the diversion route 24 hours a day to help with any issues and keep traffic flowing.

Ferries are also available between Dunoon and Gourock as an alternative route to the standard diversion.

Engineers have paused operations directly beneath the steep channel for safety, however are progressing with mitigation work elsewhere on the A83 when safe to do so.