Businesses welcome plans to upgrade Rest and Be Thankful

Public consultation will take place in December but ministers face pressure to set a date for opening of alternative route.

Businesses in Argyll and Bute have welcomed a commitment to find a permanent solution to the troubled Rest and Be Thankful.

The Scottish Government has faced pressure to set a date for the opening of an alternative route to the damage-prone A83.

Work has been ongoing to repair the road since the latest incident on August 4, when a large landslide blocked it after heavy rainfall in the area.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson yesterday outlined plans to change the route to members of the community and local elected representatives at a meeting of the A83 taskforce.

The move has been welcomed by the Argyll and Bute Council administration, but calls have been made for ministers to go further.

Jane Ireland, the owner of the Slanj restaurant in Tarbet, said local businesses needed to keep the pressure on.

She said: “The reaction, certainly from the business groups, was fantastic, they’ve definitely proposed a complete solution for this and not just doing the mitigation.

“I think they’ve (local businesses) definitely got the feeling from the meeting today that they’re (the government) listening to us, they’re not just dismissing us and carrying on as normal.

“I think we need to keep the pressure on, we need to make sure that we’re in the loop, that our thoughts are being listened to and adhered to at this time.”

A public consultation will take place in December with eleven options on the table including using the alternate side of Glen Croe and bridges across lochs.

It is hoped recommendations for a preferred route corridor will be published by 2021.

“I have instructed officials at Transport Scotland to accelerate our work to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83.”

Michael Matheson, Transport Secretary

Matheson said: “I understand the frustration and disruption that landslips at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful bring for local communities and drivers.

“While our previous investment in catch pits has helped keep the road open for an estimated 48 days when it would otherwise have closed, I realise people are looking for a long-term solution to dealing with landslips at the site.

“I have instructed officials at Transport Scotland to accelerate our work to consider alternative infrastructure options for the A83.

“Stakeholders will be involved in this process and we will publish recommendations for a preferred corridor in spring 2021.”

Three weeks after the road closed, the focus for now is firmly on getting it open again.

Argyll and Bute Council leader Aileen Morton said: “Whilst we are relieved there is now a recognised case for investment and a commitment to move away from temporary mitigation measures, we still need construction timescales and a date for the new route to open.

“It is simply not enough to talk about the options and agree a consultation phase.

“For years, closure of the A83 has seriously impacted our communities.”