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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

A83 at Rest and be Thankful: Don't travel warning after landslides

SCOTLAND's most notorious road was hit by 2000 tonnes of debris caused by seven landslips a day after it was shut down for safety reasons.

Transport Scotland's road maintenance contractor BEAR Scotland said there were seven identified landslips on the A83 including one that reached the road on the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.

Road maintenance workers said six further landslips hit the A83 between Inverary and the Rest and Be Thankful as the area saw a month's worth of rainfall, around 160mm, fall over 36 hours. BEAR say that catch pits and fences prevented some debris reaching the road at the Rest. They were unable to say how much had reached the road, which had been shut off on Friday because of fears of landslips.

Teams are on site and beginning clear-up operations where it is deemed safe to do so.

BEAR says that whlie clear up operations continue, Police Scotland's advice was to avoid travel in Argyll and Bute.

When the crucial Highland's artery is shut, motorists are sent onto a single track route, the Old Military Road (OMR), which runs through the centre of Glen Croe and acts as a diversion using a convoy system.

It is the first major landslips since two brought about by a similar bout of torrential rain blocked the road three years ago bringing the state of the road into the spotlight.

It had to be shut periodically ever since.

Ten people were airlifted to safety after torrential rain caused multiple landslides on the A83 between Tarbet and Lochgilphead and on the A815 in Argyll and Bute.

The A83 between Inverary and the Rest remained closed on Sunday. There is no indication when it will re-open.

Scottish Government-appointed maintenance firm Bear Scotland had said that decisions taken to close the road on Friday were the result of continuing forecasts of rain and "high hillside saturation levels".

The Rest stretch of the road had been expected to be out of action from 7pm on Friday to the end of Sunday, subject to outcomes of hillside inspections.

Ian Stewart, BEAR Scotland’s north west representative, said, “This extreme weather has caused widespread disruption, with Argyll significantly affected. Our teams are beginning clear up

operations to return full access to residents of Argyll, but conditions are still difficult, and we need to ensure that those on site are safe. As such, it is unlikely the A83 will reopen today.

“We are also continuing to work as part of the Argyll and Bute Resilience Partnership to assess road closures and incidents in the area.”

The A83 is an almost 100-mile trunk road connecting the Mull of Kintyre and southern Argyll to the shores of Loch Lomond.

About 1.3 million vehicles travel the route every year and it acts as an important transport link for mainland Argyll as well as the Inner Hebrides.

Campaigners have long called for a full public inquiry to determine why the road is still not fixed, and have previously demanded transport minister Jenny Gilruth to intervene to provide a shorter term solution.

There have been concerns ministers have wasted over £100m over more than a decade of failed solutions to the landslide issue.

Concerns were raised about the millions spend on temporary solutions to the landslip problem that which were first highlighted in the Scottish Road Network Landslides Study part authored by then Scottish Executive - 18 years ago.

BEAR said that a diversion via A819/A85/A82 at A85 Dalmally is open. And it said that the Western Ferries route from Gourock to Dunoon, is currently available.

In January, 2020, the A83 at the Rest was closed for two days after being covered by 1,300 tonnes of debris - leading to pleas for the road to be rerouted

The A83 at the Rest had been operating under a traffic lights system after a series of landslips over a number of years that have put the important Highlands route out of action for weeks at a time. The lights system ended more recently.

When there are further concerns road managers set up a convoy system on the A83 stretch.

Only when there are the most serious concerns do road managers divert to the OMR, which was originally built by General George Wade in response to the Jacobite uprisings in the 18th Century.

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