Transport Scotland has responded to our question yesterday [10th October 2012} as to whether there was any change to the Transport Minister’s position that the emergency diversion route in Glen Croe will carry HGVs and articulated vehicles.
The emergency route – a resurfacing of the historic old military road up the glen, with some physical amendments – will be used as an interim measure when the A83 is closed through threatened or actual landslides.
Following a reader’s sense that there had been a change to the expectation that this route would cope with the full spectrum of traffic carried by the A83, we asked Transport Scotland if they could confirm the current situation.
A Transport Scotland spokesman has now said: ‘We are in the process of strengthening and widening the emergency diversion route and remain entirely confident it will be able to cope with HGVs.
‘We have already surfaced the west end of the Old Military Road, and have carried out a successful trial with a local haulier on the hairpin bend.
‘We also recently met with the Argyll Timber Transport Group to explain in more detail the advantages the Old Military Road has over the forest track.
‘The Scottish Government appreciates the importance of the A83 route as a lifeline route which serves communities throughout Argyll, Kintyre and the Isles.
‘Over £2 million is being invested immediately towards ending the inconvenience caused by diversions following landslides at Rest and Be Thankful.
‘Action is also already underway to install further debris flow netting, with phase 2 completed this week, and traffic management is due to be lifted in the next few days.
‘The Transport Minister is due to host the next Task Force meeting on Monday, one of many visits by Ministers to the area this year.’
The news will be welcomed that traffic restrictions will shortly be lifted on the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83. The evidence of Scotland Transerv’s work done and in progress there is immediately visible to road users waiting at the current traffic lights on the single lane section and in passing through it.
Culverts have been cleaned out and in one striking case, widened and stripped back to rock. Debris flow netting has been extended and the strategy for the positioning of the new section is clear.
We note, as will concerned readers, that the Transport Scotland statement omits any reference to articulated vehicles and, although we asked again for confirmation on the position for such vehicles, we have had no response.
This sort of sudden corporate affliction with deafness and dumbness tends to suggest specific interpretation.
In this case, it is reasonable to assume that articulated vehicles will not be able to use the emergency route and will continue to have to take the long diversion of over an hour’s duration through Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Dalmally.
This does leave the heaviest users of fuel having to pay to take this lengthy diversion, much of it on roads whose nature does not support fuel economy. These vehicles tend to be key elements of the supply chain to Argyll and the Isles for businesses and for consumers.
While no one wants to see any vehicle conducted on to an unable emergency diversion road, the limitations of this interim solution conclusively reinforce Argyll’s insistence that a permanent solution to this russian roulette of an arterial route must be identified and scheduled without delay to either.