Transport Minister, Keith Brown, has failed to say when the diversionary route to be used in the event of future closures of the A83 at the Rest & Be Thankful will be ready. But he has been able to say that the estimated cost of the works has risen suddenly by 150%.
The Minister was replying today to a written Parliamentary question from Highlands & Islands Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor who has consistently pressed Ministers to deliver the option as soon as possible.
In a further written answer the Minister reveals that the cost of the work on this diversionary route is estimated at £2.4 million while a draft report looking at longer term options for the A83 is expected to be available next month.
Yesterday afternoon Traffic Scotland warned once again that there was an increased risk of landslide on the A83.
Speaking today Jamie said: ‘We have yet more warm words from a Transport Minister but my constituents still want to know when are we going to see something actually in place?
‘Developers build roads to renewable energy sites which can take 90 tonne lorries in a matter of a few weeks yet we in Argyll have waited five years and are yet to see any practical sign of a relief road.
‘Money seems to be spent on continual consultation while what my constituents need is a certainty that their livelihoods and businesses will not be upset by road closures.
‘Why doesn’t the Minister look at alpine solutions in France or Switzerland where the same kind of road is common and solutions are quickly found?
‘I will continue to press Ministers on this vital strategic issue at every opportunity.’
So why has the cost of the diversionary route gone up by 150%
Time after time, the cost of the emergency diversion route up Glen Croe has been declared to be £1million.
Now it is to be £2.4 million.
This is a massive hike in the estimated cost.
There are only two serious ways to read this sudden change in the quoted cost of these works.
- Transport Scotland is even less competent than the most cynical had perceived – with its costings so grossly wide of the mark.
- The landowner who has for so long withheld for the works to go ahead on the long central section of the old military road through the glen – now his property – has had Transport Scotland over a very large barrel indeed.
And if the second interpretation above is the case, the first is also correct.