Safety first on A83 as nightly old road detour announced

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The A83 at the Rest and be Thankful will close overnight from 6pm each evening for weeks to come as a safety precaution, with traffic instead being diverted on to the adjacent old military road local detour.

The measure will be in place until engineers have built a debris barrier on the hillside, expected to be completed in late November.

The old military road detour. Photo: BEAR Scotland

A safety inspection will take place at first light each morning ahead of a potential reopening of the A83 under traffic signal control.

Significant landslips in August and September left the slopes of Beinn Luibhean above the A83 at the Rest heavily scarred and exposed to further erosion, with loose material present both on the hillside and within a newly-formed channel directly above the road.

The behaviour of the hillside and the newly-formed channel has been closely monitored for movement by geotechnical specialists since the landslips occurred, with the road opening based on these inspections.

Trunk road management firm BEAR Scotland said that significant rainfall – around 150mm in the week since Sunday October 18 – has inundated the Rest, with small amounts of debris and silt from the hillside gradually reaching catch-pits next to the A83. No material, however, impacted the carriageway.

Further heavy rain is anticipated at the Rest for the rest of the week beginning October 26.

The hillside is constantly monitored for indications of movement, and while inspection is viable during daylight hours, it is not safe to continue with close inspections during darkness given the saturation on the hillside, further rainfall and the threat of material movement.

Once the in-channel barrier is installed on the hillside, teams will be able to continue with the construction of a new roadside catch pit at the foot of the newly formed channel which will provide further protection for the A83. With the in-channel barrier in place it is also envisaged that the A83 will be more resilient for operation during darkness under traffic light control.

Eddie Ross of BEAR Scotland said:  ‘We’re continuing to put motorist safety first, and as more seasonal wet weather approaches we have taken the decision to close the A83 each night from 6pm overnight as a safety precaution.

‘The Old Military Road will be used overnight for all road users with an inspection taking place at first light in the morning ahead of a potential reopening on the A83 under traffic signal control.

‘Already over the past week we’ve seen the challenges that normal autumnal weather is presenting with the current condition of the hillside at the Rest.

‘With more rain forecast this week, we need to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect road users. With autumnal weather expected to bring wet conditions most weeks on an already saturated hillside, it is extremely difficult for us to safely monitor the slopes above the A83 during the hours of darkness.

‘Engineers anticipate having the in-channel debris barrier in operation by late November, which will provide a good degree of resilience to the A83 and provide us with more confidence in safely opening the road again overnight.

‘We understand the frustration that this may cause, however we need to prioritise safety at all times. We’re also hoping that by making this decision now will provide a degree of clarity for road users and allow people to plan their journeys in advance.

‘As ever we thank the local community and road users for their patience in advance while we do everything we can to address the ongoing situation at the Rest.’