Transport chief pressed for Rest action

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Business leaders pushing for emergency action to construct a permanent solution to the landslide-prone A83 at the Rest and be Thankful have taken their case to the top of Transport Scotland’s tree.

In an open letter to Roy Brannen, chief executive at Transport Scotland, John Gurr, chair of The Rest and Be Thankful Campaign – made up of key Argyll business leaders – said that the crisis at the Rest is a ‘an economic, social, and safety disaster’.

Mr Gurr said in the letter that Transport Scotland’s 10-point plan for extra mitigation is ‘over-complicated’, suggesting that the’ minimum’ be done on the old military road (OMR) to keep it open, saving money on further mitigation measures.

On proposals to build a temporary road while a permanent solution is completed, Mr Gurr proposed upgrading the existing forestry road to two lanes or using it as one lane up and the OMR down, adding that to make this an adoptable standard road would be a ‘waste of time and money’.

Turning to the five Glen Croe routes being considered as a permanent solution, Mr Gurr suggested that Transport Scotland has not yet evaluated the glen’s geology and that it will take three months to tender for a contractor to do this, ‘despite it being evident this was required months ago’.

The letter continued: ‘We learned with utter disbelief that it is going to take 18 months to evaluate the ground conditions before any options are selected, then an unbelievable five to 10 years to build.’

‘The crisis at the Rest and be Thankful is a an economic, social, and safety disaster for the area, which is not being taken seriously enough by Transport Scotland or the government.’

The letter posed three questions: Who will be held accountable in the event of a fatality at the Rest due to landslides?; would the A83 remain open if it was a business site with an adjacent landslide threat?; and who is responsible for the social and economic impact on Argyll during another 10 year wait for a permanent solution?

The letter concluded: ‘All we are asking for is to cut through the “business as usual” approach and appoint someone who can build 2km of safe road within the next three years, which stays open when it rains.’

The Argyllshire Advertiser approached Mr Brannen and Transport Scotland for comment.