Transport Minister tells McGrigor A83 emergency route ready in November

rest hillclimb 2

Jamie McGrigor MSP, has been told by the Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown that work on an alternative route to be used in the event of a closure on the A83 trunk road at Rest & Be Thankful will begin next month and is due to be ‘completed by November’ this year.

The Minister revealed the timescale for the work in written Parliamentary answers to Jamie McGrigor and also confirmed that Scotland TranServ is progressing the detailed design of the emergency diversion route along the line of the Old Military Road – aka the General Wade road.

Speaking today Jamie McGrigor, who alongside his Argyll & Bute Councillor colleague, Donald Kelly, has consistently lobbied the Scottish Government to invest in the A83, says:

‘If the work on an alternative emergency diversion route can be completed by November this year then this is obviously to be welcomed.

‘Businesses and residents throughout Argyll & Bute have been very anxious to see such a route being made available by this autumn before the winter brings the prospect of bad weather and heavy rain increasing the risk of further landslips at the Rest & Be Thankful.

‘While the apparent progress on providing an emergency diversionary route is good news, I and Donald Kelly and others will continue to keep the pressure up on Ministers to recognise the strategic importance of the A83 which is a lifeline route for so many of our communities.’

Rest hillclimb 3

The top photograph shows the old road as it starts to climb to the car park at Rest and Be Thankful and before it runs into chicanes to lift it up the steep slope. We remain unconvinced that trucks will be able to use this, leaving hauliers with the increased fuel costs from the familiar hour long diversion on the A82 and A85 and A819.

The photograph immediately above shows the A83 with the old military road below it on the start to the uphill climb. The cars seen on it were in the Argyll Classic Car Run’s hillclimb in September 2010.

The texts of the parliamentary written questions and answers referred to in this article are given below.

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT WRITTEN ANSWER 19 July 2012
Index Heading: Transport Scotland
Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Executive  whether it will provide details of the alternative route being proposed in the event of the closure of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful. (S4W-08319)
Mr Keith Brown MSP : Our operating company Scotland TranServ is progressing the detailed design of the emergency diversion route along the line of the Old Military Road. Full details of the design will be made available in due course.

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT WRITTEN ANSWER 19 July 2012
Index Heading: Transport Scotland
Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Executive  whether the alternative route being proposed in the event of the closure of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful will be in place by autumn 2012. (S4W-08320)
Mr Keith Brown MSP : The works are programmed to start in August and be completed by November 2012.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Your second photograph illustrates very clearly that the old military road traverses the same slopes – at a lower level – as the troublesome stretch of the A83, so in times of serious threat of landslides closing the main road let’s hope it doesn’t lead to closure of the emergency route as well. It’s on the record that the old road has suffered from landslides in the past.

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    Robert Wakeham July 20, 2012 2:21 pm Reply
    • Totally agree with the above. However, a lesser gradient, plus, ironically the break provided by the younger modern route, might mean that any landslip is less likely to have a major impact. Having driven the old road, my personal view is that the modern major trucks will have to do the long haul, with the knock on effect on all of us.

      Whilst no-one, I suspect, really wants to have a major galley structure is what is historically and visually a well-known and much visited Glen, for once, the bullet has got to be bitten and a gallery invested in. Soon! With the Pulpit Rock plans for the A82, there is a very real risk of much of Argyll being a no-go zone.

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      Jade July 20, 2012 4:56 pm Reply
      • It’s easy to envision a ‘major gallery structure’ as being a massive concrete eyesore – but it doesn’t have to be, as the support columns can be relatively slender steel, and the sloping concrete roof can be planted over, just like a planted roof on a house (albeit subject to replanting after an ‘event’)

        Who knows? rendering the old military road suitable for emergency use might have more impact on the character of upper Glen Croe than carefully designed galleries on the A83..

        The Pulpit Rock proposals on the A82 have been carefully designed to be as ‘low-key’ as possible – though admittedly not as low-key as a straight-through short tunnel would have been. This was ruled out because excavation of the southern portal would have blocked the existing road, with temporary diversion works deemed too much of a challenge.

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        Robert Wakeham July 20, 2012 5:27 pm Reply
  • Lets hope Transport Scotland have, for a change, done their homework properly and are proceeding on the basis of full geological and engineering studies.

    Reports that were referenced on forargyll indicated the area is unstable and that changes, if not well considered, run the risk of making matters worse. To a layman there does appear to be a possibility that a landslide could affect both the upper and the lower roads. Is there not also a possibility that work on the lower road could result in slides undermining the upper road?

    The above is supposition. In the case of the Dunoon Gourock ferry service Transport Scotland were warned that the Ali Cat could not operate reliably on the route. That was certainty based on established performance. None the less Transport Scotland pressed ahead with two small boats and then, surprise surprise ended up with a service that Alex Neil stated is “not fit for purpose”

    On the A83 I fear Transport Scotland will press ahead without full and proper technical analysis of the issues just to be seen to be doing something. Then one day surprise surprise we will have “extreme weather” or “an act of God” and both these roads will be knocked out at once.

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    ferryman July 20, 2012 4:25 pm Reply
  • Go for a walk… all you will hear in Glen Croe is traffic noise. And don’t forget it’s full of forestry. So it’s hardly unspoiled. So an appropriately designed road gallery would on the whole, be a benefit. I remain convinced that the best long term plan is to divert the trunk road away from that glen and that hill, though.

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    Stephen Mackenzie July 20, 2012 8:18 pm Reply
  • I remember my dad talking about getting the bus along the old road when he was a kid and it not being able to take the bends, so it in effect did 3-point turns round the worst ones!

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    Kerr July 26, 2012 11:30 am Reply

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