A83 landslip diversion closed over rockfall fears

Workers prepare the diversion after a landslip. Picture: Traffic Scotland
Workers prepare the diversion after a landslip. Picture: Traffic Scotland
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A NEW diversionary route used for the first time today following a landslide which blocked the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful pass in Argyll has itself had to be shut tonight because of the risk of further rockfalls.

The Old Military Road route will be closed from 7:30pm until 7am, while the A83 will also remain shut even though debris has been cleared from the carriageway. Drivers face a detour of up to 60 miles via Tyndrum.

BEAR Scotland, which maintains the main route between Glasgow and Kintyre, said: “Whilst the clear-up operation has been completed, there is still considerable uncertainty due to the continued poor weather conditions about the stability of the hillside above the A83.

“A large amount of material, both boulders and silt, has been disturbed during today’s landslide and there is concern that this may be mobilised by the heavy rain which is forecast to continue until early morning.

“Given the on-going concern about potential further rock falls and landslides, and difficulty in monitoring this during the hours of darkness, it has been decided to close the local diversion route between 7:30pm tonight and 7:00am tomorrow morning.

The £2.5 million road in Glen Croe had been finally pressed into service more than a year and three landslips since it was completed.

Route used for first time

Traffic was switched from the A83 after the main road was blocked overnight just south of the Rest and Be Thankful car park.

The diversionary route was finished in February last year following a series of landslips.

However, since then three more have shut the A83, but on stretches of the road just west of the pass which are not served by the new road - at Kinglas in October and January, and Butterbridge two weeks ago.

There have now been at least eight landslides in the area in the last five years.

BEAR Scotland said most of the debris had been caught by a new protective fence, but slurry had covered the road.

Engineers also reported “significant concern” about the stability of the hillside so closed the road.

The firm said a convoy system had operated on the diversionary route for both cars and lorries, causing delays of up to 45 minutes.

Transport minister Keith Brown told MSPs today the A83 Taskforce would meet again in two weeks - sooner than planned - to discuss the latest landslips.

He said a total of £7.5m had been spent so far on remedial work.

This has also included protective netting, new culverts and drainage at previous landslip sites.

He said: “This is a clear sign of our intent to find solutions to keep the A83 open and operational.

“The Old Military Road diversion is currently operational and is a clear example of our efforts.

“The A83 Route Study has recommended actions to address landslide hazards at other locations, in particular Glen Kinglas, Cairndow and Loch Shira, to give a comparable level of landslide protection to that proposed at the Rest and Be Thankful.

“We have progressed investigations at all three sites and the output of this will be a report recommending areas within each site which are considered high risk, together with potential mitigation options.”

Highlands Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor told Mr Brown today that every closure hit businesses “from Cairndow to Campbeltown”, and said they were frustrated that work at the other landslip sites had yet to start.