Rain to shut OMR despite 574ft long barrier

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Continued heavy rain at the Rest and Be Thankful is to shut the Old Military Road (OMR) again today – just a month after a massive new barrier went in to protect motorists against landslips.

The OMR – which has been used as a local diversion through Glen Croe when the A83 is shut to bad weather – will close at 6pm, unless conditions worsen before then, said BEAR Scotland this afternoon.

Last month, a 574ft-long and 21ft high ‘protective bund’ was unveiled on January 18 after weeks of work to protect a vulnerable section from landslips and help keep the OMR open.

But BEAR Scotland said in a statement today that with further rain forecast ‘increased water flows’ had been witnessed not just at the scene of the bund, but ‘a number of other locations’ across the hillside, forcing a decision to close on safety grounds.

Since midnight on Thursday, almost 60mm (2.3in) of rain has been recorded as falling on the hillside at the Rest and Be Thankful, it said.

A further 30mm (1.1in) of further rain is expected by midnight tonight, it said.

Teams have been closely monitoring the hillside using specialist equipment to note changes.

Snow melt has aggravated the situation by adding to heavy water flows in the channels on the slope.

BEAR Scotland said at the time of the completion of the new barrier that it would depend on ‘weather forecasts and hillside saturation levels’. Decisions on its use are made ‘daily’.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north west representative said: ‘We’ve been experiencing very challenging conditions in the operation of the OMR and we have been closely monitoring hillside conditions throughout the day including the levels of water present in the channels on the hillside.

‘With almost 60mm falling in the area since midnight alone, coupled with more heavy rain forecast this evening, and with snow melt contributing to high saturation levels on the hill,we’ve taken the decision along with Transport Scotland to close the Old Military Road as a safety precaution from 6pm.

‘All traffic will be diverted between Tarbet and Inveraray via the standard diversion of A82, A85 and A819 from 6pm. We’ll review the area at first light tomorrow morning (Saturday) to determine if it is safe to reopen the road.

‘At the moment we have a team of people on site monitoring conditions on the hillside, and if conditions take a significant turn we’ll have to implement the standard diversion earlier for safety reasons if required.

‘We understand motorists’ frustration with such closures but we have to continue to prioritise road user safety at all times.

“We thank the local community and motorists for their patience while we do everything we can to address the ongoing work at the rest.’