ENGINEERS are being having to plough more public money to protect an iconic Scots route - after it emerged that even the single-track alternative is under threat from landslides.

The development comes as there still remains no timescale for the re-opening of the landslip-plagued A83 at the Rest and be Thankful which was supposed to be partially open by mid-November once fence repairs had been completed.

The important Highlands route has been open for barely three weeks in the last four months since a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road.

But now it has emerged that after a series of overnight closures, engineers are having to create protection for Old Military Road, the single-track local alternative route.

Maintenance firm BEAR Scotland said construction of a barrier is to begin immediately on the roadside bund to provide "extra resilience" for the alternative to the A83, which remains shut.

And it is now even examining an alternative route to the alternative route.

It is looking at the viability of a forestry road track nearby as a potential single-track relief away from the OMR.


Previous work on the A83

The announcement was about the new works was made by transport secretary Michael Matheson, at a meeting with stakeholders in the region.

The 175m long, 6m high bund will be positioned next to the OMR at the foot of a "vulnerable channel" formed by landslips in August and September. BEAR Scotland said the barrier will be formed using a "modular system" favoured by the military and will be largely backfilled with material from previous landslides.

It said that once in place, the barrier will provide "additional resilience" to the local diversion, enabling further use during adverse weather. Construction of the barrier is expected to be complete by Christmas.

It is not clear whether this will lead to more disruption to road users. BEAR Scotland has been asked how much the new works will cost.

Ministers have previously been accused of wasting nearly £80 million on more than a decade of failed solutions to landslides on the A83 proper after the latest multiple slips in heavy rainfall.

Some locals have called for a public inquiry into the problems, with many saying a permanent solution must be found.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity today to discuss with local stakeholders and businesses our continuing work in delivering landslide mitigation measures at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful and the Old Military Road local diversion.

"At this meeting, I announced that I have instructed our contractors to commence construction of a new 175 metre debris bund above the Old Military Road, with the aim of completing works before Christmas, weather permitting. This will provide greater resilience to the local diversion, helping to ensure continuity of access to the region.”

BEAR Scotland said a design team is also continuing to assess the viability of the forestry track as an alternative route through Glen Croe.

BEAR said the OMR remains in use as a local diversion route for road users with teams closely reviewing the weather forecast and conditions on the hillside on a daily basis.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north west representative said: “The Old Military Road is operating well as a local diversion and after thorough assessments of the hillside we’re keeping the route operational 24 hours a day as long as weather conditions allow.

“Installation of this new bund will give us the opportunity to use the local diversion route with greater confidence once it is complete later this month.

“As ever we’re continuing to put road user safety first. We thank the local community and all road users for their patience and assure them we’re doing everything we can to address the ongoing situation at the Rest.”

Transport Scotland published details of the 11 "corridor options" for a new route to replace the landslip-prone section of the A83 include building up to three bridges or tunnels.

But the choice of solution is not expected to be chosen till next year.