The preferred route to replace a section of the A83 prone to landslides would run through the same glen as the existing road, transport chiefs have announced.
Transport Scotland last year launched a public consultation with 11 “route corridor options” for improving access to Argyll and Bute and finding a long-term solution to the challenges at the Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint, which included proposals for building bridges or tunnels.
A route through Glen Croe near to the existing road has now been identified as the preferred option following the public consultation and a preliminary assessment of all 11 route corridor options.
Transport Scotland said that in recognition of a need to act quickly, further short and medium term mitigation works at the Rest and Be Thankful have also been identified and will be taken forward in the coming months.
The Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “Following the disruption caused by landslips at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful, I understand the frustration and disruption that these bring for local communities and road users.
“We are progressing substantial short-term investment in the existing A83 including installing a debris cage and new culvert, construction of an additional catchpit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures at the River Croe crossing.
“I can also announce today that I have asked Transport Scotland to progress work to look at a medium-term resilient route through Glen Croe including consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers. Depending on the statutory consents required, this work will seek to develop finalised proposals within 18 months.
“Along with this work on the existing A83, we are working in parallel to identify a permanent solution to the road at the Rest and Be Thankful. Following the conclusion of the preliminary assessment of the corridor options under consideration the preferred corridor has been identified as the Glen Croe corridor, Option 1.
“Identifying the preferred route corridor is a major step forward for this vital work and we are now pushing forward to look at five alternative options within that online corridor and starting the process shortly to appoint design consultants for this work.”
Transport Scotland said that the preferred route corridor is more cost effective and quicker to deliver than the others, with significantly fewer environmental constraints.
It has launched a public consultation on the five route options through Glen Croe, one of which closely follows the alignment of the current A83 Trunk Road.
The others are alternative routes through the glen and may include the construction of new lengths of carriageway, viaducts and tunnels.
Transport Scotland said it will be starting the process of procuring long term consultancy services for the design work next month and taking forward further survey and assessment work in parallel with this procurement subject to Covid-19 restrictions.