Transport Scotland has changed the area responsibilities for Scotland’s roads – for whatever reason.
Scotland Transerv has lost the contract for the road routes in Argyll and Bute and is now to look after the south west of Scotland. Bear Scotland is to take responsibility for the north west area which includes this part of the world.
Where does this leave the emergency diversion route for the A83?
Quite where does this latest fiddling around leaves the emergency route for the A83 is hard to say – because this project is now in complete disarray.
Transport Scotland has today admitted that – as we revealed yesterday – it does not in fact have any agreement in place with the landowner whose territory includes the old military road.
In La La Land, this has produced a narrative which declares that Transport Scotland has not yet ‘come to any decision’ as to which of the two candidates to be the emergency diversion route in Glen Croe – the old military road or the forestry track – will be chosen.
The work prematurely done is being spun as ‘providing common access to both potential routes’ – blatantly not the case in respect of the hairpin at the high west end, delivering to the car park at Rest and Be Thankful.
It is against the topography for this to be an access to the forestry track on the southern hillside of the glen – or not without expensive and unnecessary engineering as a face saver.
The Scotland Transerv engineers assessed the forestry track as the least viable of the two possible routes under consideration as an emergency diversion when the A83 gives way to yet another landslide.
There will be much more work to be done on it:
- in preparation for surfacing;
- in upgrading the many culverts;
- in working on the uphill and downhill sides of a slope possibly steeper than the northern one across which the A83 runs and equally prone to landslides;
- in facing the likelihood that the engineering work to ready this track for use will itself trigger landslides;
- in engineering an exit into the Lochgoilhead road.
Transport Scotland are to announce the latest ‘final decision’ on this route on Monday, which means at the meeting of the A83 Task Force at Arrochar.
We understand that the new Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to attend.
This will be intended as a decoy to deflect the focused anger of the Task Force – who had to seek this meeting – at this latest debacle for Argyll at the hands of Transport Scotland. They may find that the minds of the Task Force members are more focused on the issue in hand.
In our view, the likelihood is a major win for the landowner, with confirmation on Monday that the old military road is to be the emergency diversion route after all.
The corporate irresponsibility of starting major works of this kind, as Transport Scotland has done here - without an agreement with the landowner in place, beggars professional credibility.
As we have said from the start, this premature action has left the department in an impossibly weak negotiating position. And they themselves rolled in the barrel they are now lying across.
- They can pay the landowner whatever he demands.
- They can leave Argyll with no alternative access in times of landslide for another winter, with the volume of work – and cost – of preparing the forestry track for such service,
Either way, public money gets torched.
Transport Scotland is a joke department but the joke is on Argyll and the Isles.