United calls have been submitted by leaders in Argyll for immediate action to solve the woes of the landslip ridden Rest and Be Thankful.
The demands to senior Scottish ministers come following a landslip last Tuesday which forced the closure of the A83 Tarbet to Campbeltown road at the Rest and Be Thankful and with the usual diversion route via the Old Military Road.
Senior representatives have penned a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and transport minister Michael Matheson calling for urgent action, claiming “it truly is a miracle that no one has been seriously injured or even killed to date”.
In the letter, signed by Argyll and Bute Council leader Aileen Morton, depute leader Gary Mulvaney, SNP group leader Sandy Taylor, Argyll First Group leader Dougie Philand and MSPs Jackie Baillie, Donald Cameron and Michael Russell, calls have been made for a “permanent, robust solution”.
The letter requests “urgent action” in the form of a special meeting of the A83 taskforce to identify a permanent solution by the end of March next year, with the view to work beginning next December and being complete by the end of 2023 at the latest.
The combined voices have accepted the “very tremendous effort” required – however, have said the risk of failing to address the issue is “too great”.
The letter continues: “The threats to Argyll and Bute’s economic success and to the contribution it makes to the national economy are well known, as are the various personal impacts on those who live and work in our communities and who find their business, social and health-related activities disrupted without warning when landslips close the Rest.
“Our biggest concern now, though, given the scale of last week’s incident, is continued public safety – it truly is a miracle that no one has been seriously injured or even killed to date.
“We simply cannot afford to wait any longer – the risks are too great.”
Approximately six tonnes of debris slid down the hillside last Tuesday as the vital route was closed off.
Boulders the size of cars were exposed with workers continuing to assess the damage and conduct repairs to allow normal service to resume.
A Transport Scotland spokesman confirmed the next meeting of the taskforce has been brought forward.
He said the organisation understands the frustration of local communities and drivers and has said Bear Scotland are working “as quickly as possible” but can only operate “when it is safe to do so”.
He added that £13m has been invested into landslide measures on the roads, as part of a wider £79m investment into the A83 since 2007, which has kept the road open for an estimated 48 days when it would have otherwise closed.
The spokesman added: “Four roadside catchpits have now been completed, with a total capacity of almost 15,000 tonnes and we are exploring options for further catchpits with more work due to commence next month.
“We appreciate this will be scant consolation to those affected at this time and recognise that a permanent solution is key, albeit challenging, both from an engineering and financial perspective, in the current climate.
“The next taskforce meeting is being brought forward and will take place on August 27.”
The calls come as clean up operations on the stricken road continue.
Overnight closures have been put in place on the Old Military Road diversions after fears of heavy rain shifting debris have been raised.
A reassessment is to take place at first light today.
Teams working to clear debris are expecting to determine the full programme of repairs later this week once designs are complete.