TRANSPORT: A83 Rest and Be Thankful opening hours extended

both roads
The damaged section of the A83, with the Old Military Road to left of picture.

By Rory Murphy

Longer daylight hours have allowed the A83 Rest and Be Thankful opening times to be extended by 30 minutes.  It will now be open from about 08:00 to 17:15 each day – weather permitting.

The A83 runs for almost 100 miles, but one section near Arrochar has become infamous for landslips, closures and long diversions.

A preferred corridor route for access to Argyll and Bute is expected to be announced by Transport Scotland this spring.

All overnight traffic will continue to be diverted via the Old Military Road, which runs parallel to the A83, as a safety precaution.

The road will also be used as an alternative route through Glen Croe if the hillside conditions deteriorate during the day.

Transport Scotland has invested more than £15m in landslide measures in the area since 2007.

The construction work, from 2003 onwards, is estimated to have helped keep The Rest open for 48 days when it would otherwise have closed.

Engineers are continuing to construct a roadside debris catch-pit, having installed an in-channel fence and a debris bund over the last six months.

In recent years, the road has become notorious for the number of closures caused by landslips.

Long-term solutions

It was closed for 17 days in October 2007 and since then, nine more landslides have left the road impassable.

It was blocked in September 2009, December 2011, August 2012, October 2013, October 2014, October 2015, October 2018 – and twice in 2020.

About 1,000 tonnes of debris closed the road in January last year, and in August it was blocked by 6,000 tonnes of debris – including “car-sized boulders” – after heavy rain.

Landslide at Rest and Be Thankful
More than 1,000 tonnes of debris fell on to the carriageway in January 2020

Transport Minister Michael Matheson has said he recognises that the timescales for a long-term solution are “frustrating for the local community”.

The Scottish government asked the public for input on 11 corridor options September, with a preferred route expected to be announced this spring.

Argyll and Bute Council has said “the only realistic solution” is Option 1, the plan to build a route adjacent to the existing Rest and Be Thankful road.

The local authority has called for a replacement road to be constructed and opened by May 2026 at the latest.

‘Clear timescales’

It was responding to the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) which was updated earlier this month.

Council leader Robin Currie, right, and MSPs Jackie Baillie and Michael Russell have also written to the transport minister demanding urgent action.

They have called for the continuation of mitigation measures at the site and more frequent meetings of the A83 taskforce, to focus on “driving forward” delivery of the replacement route.

Councillor Currie has said “it is absolutely vital to stay connected” and that putting in place “clear timescales” will address the situation.

The Scottish government has asked Transport Scotland to speed up its work on providing a long-term solution to dealing with the problem.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said it was “committed to looking at further short and medium-term measures to improve the resilience of the route in tandem with the work to identify a permanent solution.”

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