Transport Scotland has announced that The Glen Croe corridor has been selected as the preferred route corridor as part of a long-term solution for access to Argyll and Bute via the Rest and Be Thankful.
The Glen Croe sub corridor is adjacent to the existing road corridor starting from the bridge over Coire Croe Burn between the Cobbler and Beinn Luibhean.
It is offset from the existing A83 Trunk Road and re-joins the alignment of the existing A83 Trunk Road before the bend prior to the junction with the B828 and the access to the Rest and Be Thankful car park.
It is approximately 1.5 kilometers long and would generally follow a similar profile to the existing road.
This selection comes after 650 responses to the public consultation.
The selected corridor was named as option one of the 11 proposed routes outlined on the Transport Scotland website.
TS has said the preferred route corridor is more cost-effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly fewer environmental constraints.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP 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.
“I can also announce today (Thursday, March 18) 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.”
Additional short and medium-term plans were also announced which include a new debris cage, catch-pit, debris fencing, and flood mitigation measures which will be implemented in the coming months.
The decision has been welcomed by Argyll and Bute MSP Mike Russell who said: “Now we need the new road to be built in record time.”
Mr. Russell continued: “This road was built in the wrong place many years ago and has become one of the worst infrastructure problems in Scotland, exacerbated in recent years by greatly increased intensity of, and amount of, rainfall.
“Now we need that new road to be built in record time and my first criteria for choosing the final route is that one – which will take least time to build. My second criteria is resilience – the new road has to be open all the time and be a permanently safe and secure replacement.”
The issues caused by the Rest and Be Thankful saga have been felt hard by local business owners who have also been reacting to the news this week. Jack McKirdy of McKirdy Haulage based on the Isle of Bute said: “This could have been done years ago. This option was discussed and suggested as the most suitable option in a meeting between government and local haulage contractors a decade or more ago. Since then, my understanding is that something in the region of £80M has been spent on temporary measures that have achieved little to nothing. Leadership has been very poor, and much money has been wasted, both of which are very disappointing.”
However, not everyone is as impressed by the decision.
The Cowal Fixed Link Working Group was established in 2013 to investigate and campaign for a fixed road/rail link from Cowal to the Central Belt. The group came up with an Ardentinny Bridge proposal which was detailed as option four in the consultation.
A spokesperson for the group told this newspaper: “The Cowal Fixed Link Working Group is disappointed by the Transport Scotland announcement that the chosen alternative for addressing the issues of the A83 is one of five routes which will run through Glen Croe parallel and close to the existing A83.
“It is stated that other options have been excluded because the preferred route corridor is more cost-effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly less environmental constraints. Very few details on this statement have been provided, and there is no mention of the substantial additional economic benefits that option four, for example, could have provided. We also believe that the modified Option four route that our group recommended, including the Ardentinny Bridge and the minimum initial necessary connecting infrastructure, could have been delivered within a much shorter time.
“Unfortunately, because of the consultation process just concluded and the time for the probably unnecessary additional consultation process now underway, the A83 fix will be delayed once again, possibly for years. And, with the investment that will now be exclusively focussed on the A83, it is now highly unlikely that any further infrastructure spent in Cowal and Mid-Argyll will be made in the foreseeable future.”