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Fears that landslide emergency diversion route is crumbling

Landslide mitigation works at the Rest and Be Thankful.
Landslide mitigation works at the Rest and Be Thankful.

Fears are being raised about the state of a heavily used emergency diversion route when landslides close the notorious Rest and Be Thankful road in Argyll.

The Old Military Road at the bottom of the hill is called into action in the evenings, when rubble blocks the A83 Tarbet to Campbeltown road or when heavy rain sparks a landslide warning.

But the diversion is crumbling as a result of increased traffic, according to local reports.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said: “The Old Military Road was never intended to carry the volumes of traffic, including heavy commercial vehicles, that are now regularly pounding it as a result of the problems with the A83.

“It’s got so bad that some drivers are worried that their cars may be damaged by the potholes that are forming.

“However given that the alternative diversion to the Old Military Road is an extra 60 miles of driving it’s no wonder that local people will be very reluctant to see it closed for repairs.

“Frankly, the neglect and short-sightedness of the SNP Government in failing to have put in place a permanent solution during their 14 years in office is really coming home to roost.”

Victoria Winters, a director of the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance, said: “One of the concerns that everybody has is that the whole process of fixing the A83 is just subject to delay after delay.

“Temporary measures they have put in place to allow us to have the shortest route aren’t going to last that long. Nothing will get better until there is a long term solution for this road.

“The Old Military Road was developed as a short term alternative while other mitigations were put in place. But we have got past the point of mitigation. We have to have a long term solution.”

Transport Scotland said they are committed to looking at further short and medium term measures to improve the resilience of the route.

A spokesman said: “The cabinet secretary has instructed officials to accelerate work to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83. Eleven corridor options were presented to the public last year with a preferred corridor expected to be identified this spring.”

The A83 normally opens 8am to 5.15pm when weather conditions allow with the Old Military Road in use at night. Yesterday both roads were forced to close again due to heavy rain with the Old Military Road brought back into action late afternoon.

A spokesman for Bear Scotland added: “The Old Military Road local diversion is continuing to serve as a safe alternative route through Glen Croe while the A83 remains closed overnight at the Rest.

“The recent adverse winter weather conditions – particularly the freeze and thaw cycle – can have a serious impact on roads leading to the rapid deterioration of road surfaces, and we’re aware of the recent deterioration of some sections of the OMR. This is over and above the wear and tear it has experienced through regular use since August 2020.

“Temporary pothole repairs are being carried out daily to ensure it remains safe, with larger repairs planned for the worst sections when weather conditions allow. We’re also considering a wider surfacing project for the OMR in the spring to help ensure the route serves as a safe alternative to the A83.

“As ever we thank all road users for their patience while we continue to do all we can to address the ongoing mitigation work in the area.”

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