(16.00 Latest) Situation updates 5 December 2011
Update 16.00 5th December: Current arrangements to continue for time being
Scotland Transerv say that the arrangements put in place on Saturday 3rd December (road open daily 0830 to 1600) will continue until the current weather patterns change.
Outwith the opening times the same diversion route will continue – via A83 Dalmally- A85 Tyndrum-A82 Tarbet. This will add an extra 26 miles to the journey. Importantly access is still available to Arrochar and the A814 and also Cairndow and the A815.
Scotland Transerv are very grateful to the public for their continuing support and patience.
Update 12.00 4th December: Snow ploughs up at Rest and Be Thankful. Light snow on tops overnight, currently heavy sky with intermittent rain falling as sleet.
Traffic Scotland is warning that: ‘Sleet and snow showers will continue during Sunday afternoon and evening across Scotland (and in Argyll and Bute) and will last through Monday, bringing accumulations of snow to some areas. Icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces. The public should be aware that this could lead to travel disruption in places.’
17.30 update 2nd December: Closed tonight, open 8.30 Saturday 3rd December for daylight hours
A Transport Scotland spokesman has just said:
‘Public safety remains our main priority and we appreciate the patience shown by those affected since the road closure yesterday.
‘At present the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful remains closed except to emergency vehicles, with diversions via the A819, A85 and A82 remaining in place.
‘Work to clear the road of around 120 tonnes of mud and boulders has concluded and the road surface and drainage systems have now been cleaned. Detailed surveys on the slopes above the road have been carried out today by geotechnical experts and additional safety mitigation measures are being put in place later today.
‘Given the need to closely monitor hillside conditions, which can only be conducted during daylight hours, coupled with the Met Office forecast for rainfall and changeable conditions until Tuesday, road authority partners have concluded the A83 should open during daylight hours only, reverting to the diversions above during hours of dark.
‘We therefore expect to reopen the road to traffic at 8.30am tomorrow morning (Sat) and for it to remain open during daylight hours, closing again at 4pm. This arrangement is scheduled to remain in place until Tuesday when it will be reviewed again, and is subject to prevailing weather and road conditions.
‘This solution is designed first and foremost to protect the safety of drivers using the road and road workers manning the traffic management arrangements, whilst accommodating the needs of the local communities.
‘Motorists should allow extra time for their journeys and pay attention to any advisory signs which will be in place throughout the works.’
For Argyll would add that, with ‘significant’ snowfalls forecast for Sunday 4th December for much of Argyll and for this area, it would be prudent for anyone considering travelling via the A83 in daylight hours on Sunday – and particularly in the afternoon – to check the current status at the Rest with Traffic Scotland in good time.
15.00 update: The planned 13.00 update did not happen
We have enquired about the current position and have, however, been told to expect an update soon. Scotland Transewrv is aware that people are anxious about planning their weekend travel – and the vast majority of vehicles coming in to or leaving Argyll does so via the A83.
10.30 update: – no decision before 13.00
With the safety of the public and the Scotland Transerv workforce an absolute priority, the detailed examination of the stability of the hillside above the area of the most recent landslip on the A83 is continues as from its start at first light this morning.
The examination will continue until such Scotland Transerv’s geo-technical engineers are satisfied that public safety can be assured.
The earliest time that a decision is expected to be made on the reopening of the road is 13.00 to-day. We will report on that decision when we get it.
Scotland Transerv wish to express their gratitude to the public for their continuing support and patience.
A Diversion route is in place via A83 Dalmally- A85 Tyndrum-A82 Tarbet. This will add an extra 26 miles to the journey. Importantly access is still available to Arrochar and the A814 and also Cairndow and the A815.
08.00 update: A83 remains closed to traffic
Situation assessment is restarting – and rain is falling. More updates as we get them.
It’s happened: A83 landslide closure
(Original story and situation updates: 1st December 2011)
We are indebted to the Kintyre Forum for alerting us to this very quickly.
Just before 7.30 this morning Traffic Scotland announced that the A83 at Rest and Be Thankful is closed – and will be until further notice – in both directions because of a landslide.
The closure points are at the junction of the A83 with the A815 – into the Cowal peninsula; and at the Ardgartan Visitor Centre, west of Loch Long.
The usual diversion is in place for traffic in both directions – via A83 Inveraray – A819 Dalmally – A85 Tyndrum – A82 Tarbet and in reverse for traffic from Glasgow.
The diversion adds 26 miles to the journey.
This has been happening at two year intervals since 2007 – to what is literally Argyll’s arterial road, running into the area from Glasgow in the south and all the way across and down it to the Mull of Kintyre at Campbeltown.
All that Transport Scotland has done is make do and mend – on a hillside known to be unstable in conditions of prolonged and/or sudden heavy rainfall.. In the last week we have had both.
There is no evidence of any advance strategic thinking on reliable access to this extensive and significant land mass.
From Argyll and Bute;s MSP, Michael Russell: ‘I have been in touch with the Transport Minister who assures me that everything possible is being done to clear the site and ensure that the the road is safe and reopenened as quickly as possible. It is imperative that the road is reopened as soon as possible as the alternative routes are lengthly, present huge logistical problems and disadvantage many Argyll businesses who rely on the passing trade that the traffic on this route provides.’
From Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP and Argyll & Bute Councillor Donald Kelly (South Kintyre): Jamoe McGrigor and Donald Kelly are calling for the Scottish Government to take urgent action to ensure that the A83 is re-opened as soon as possible following a new landslide at the Rest & Be Thankful and to make sustained investment in the route to ensure that landslides are prevented in future.
Jamie McGrigor asked an urgent constituency question on the issue at First Minister’s Question Time today and has also been in contact with the Transport Minister, Keith Brown, this morning. The First Minister informed Jamie that the clearance operation would get underway once the water had subsided and inspections confirmed it was safe to do so. Mr Salmond also said he anticipated the road being closed for up to 24 hours.
Councilor Donald Kelly said: ‘The closure of the A83 is potentially devastating for the economy of Campbeltown and Kintyre as it is the main and most important route into and out of Kintyre. I am deeply concerned about the impact this closure will have on local businesses which are already under real pressure due to the tough economic conditions.
‘This is the third time in four years that the Rest and Be Thankful has been affected by a landslide. It was closed for lengthy periods in 2007 and 2009 and everything possible must be done both to reopen the road as soon as possible and to ensure that these circumstances are not repeated. Jamie McGrigor and I have been urging the Scottish Government to take action on this issue for many years and it is deeply disappointing that this road has once again been closed.’
Jamie McGrigor MSP said: ‘Yet again the A83 which is a lifeline route to Argyll, Dunoon and Campbeltown and the main gateway for tourists to these areas has been blocked at the Rest & Be Thankful.
‘I have been for years urging successive Transport Ministers to accept the key strategic importance of the A83 and to invest in areas that are at risk of landslides to ensure they can be prevented.
‘If we are serious about attracting inward investment to Argyll & Bute and Kintyre and Campbeltown in particular then this state of affairs is simply not acceptable.’
Situation updates 1 December 2011
10.55: Details of landslide
This is not a reopening of the last serious landslide. It is a new one, 0.5 miles away, on the Inveraray side of the previous slip,
As an indication of its relative significance, where the last one in 2009 was 1,100 tons of material, this one is estimated to be between 80 and 100 tons. However, Scotland Transerv emphasises that it is early days. A full assessment of the slippage is being carried out.
We are in regular contact with Scotland Transerv and will update here immediately as soon as we get the information.
12.30: Confirmation of location
We have had formal confirmation from Scotland Transerv that the new landslide is indeed 0.5 miles west of rest and Be Thankful.
13.00 update: Clearance operation begun
Scotland Transerv has confirmed that access remains available:
- to Arrochar and the A814 (the Loch Longside road to Garelochhead and Helensburgh)
- and to Cairndow and the A815 (the road into the Cowal peninsula)
They also say that the clearance operation is now underway and regular updates on progress will follow – published here at once.
They emphasise that safety is of paramount importance and a detailed assessment of the hillside is currently underway. Transerv have to be certain that there is now more loosened material on the hillside, When the full assessment is complete Scotland Transerv will be in a position to give an indication of when the road will reopen. We will report that information here as soon as we have it.
14,30 update: site photograph above
While Scotland Transerv are still saying ‘west’ of the last 2009 landslide and wile the BBC’s shot in the 1.30 news bulleton looked like the road west of the previousn one, alongside Loch Restil, this shot they have kindly sent us does look as if it could be read as east – downhill – of the 2009 slip. But Scotland Transerv are using GPS and have also said that the new landslip is ‘on the Inveraray side’, which is the west side.
This photographs does show the limited amount of material on the road. The question the full assessment will answer is whether or not there is likely to be more.
16.15 update: closure to continue overnight
A single lane clearance is now in effect to allow access for all emergency services vehicles only.
These access arrangements will continue overnight.
Scotland Transerv’s engineers have continuing concerns about the stability of the hillside so the closure will continue overnight; with the situation to be reviewed at first light to-morrow morning. We will report their findings as soon as we get them.