ENGINEERS are unable to say when a landslip-plagued key Scots road will ever re-open.

The A83 at the Rest and be Thankful has been open for barely three weeks in the last four months since a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road.

The important Highlands route was supposed to be at least partially open by mid-November once fence repairs have been complete.

But on Thursday it emerged that they are now looking for an alternative route to the alternative route to the A83.

And they are seeking to spend £1m on a barrier to protect the original alternative route, the single-track Old Military Road.

Now it has emerged engineers are to build new protection for its emergency alternative.

Maintenance firm Bear Scotland said construction of a barrier at a cost of about £950,000 is to begin immediately, providing “extra resilience” for the alternative to the A83.

And Bear Scotland is now examining an alternative route to the Old Military Road (OMR). The company is looking at the viability of a forestry road track nearby as a potential single-track relief away from the OMR in the short to medium term.


Organised convoy on the OMR alternative route to the landslip-plagued A83

The announcement about the new “bund”, a type of embankment, to protect the OMR 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 would provide “additional resilience” to the local diversion, enabling further use during adverse weather. Construction of the barrier is expected to be complete by Christmas.

Bear added that some “limited restrictions” might be introduced on road operation to allow deliveries, but added: “We will seek to time these to cause minimum inconvenience to the road user.”

Ministers have previously been accused of wasting nearly £80m on more than a decade of failed solutions to landslides on the main A83 Rest and Be Thankful route after the latest multiple slips caused by heavy rainfall.

Local residents have called for a public inquiry into the issue, demanding a permanent solution.

A spokesperson for Bear Scotland said: “The bund is formed of modular units that are filled with material and stacked to form a protective barrier, which will afford a greater level of protection to the Old Military Road (OMR) and enhance operational resilience at the location affected by the landslide events of August and September.

"Constructing the bund in this way allows us to maintain traffic on the OMR during construction using the current convoy system. We may need to impose some limited restrictions on road operation to allow deliveries but we will seek to time these to cause minimum inconvenience to the road user.

“We are also undertaking a study on the feasibility of using the forest road as an alternative diversion instead of the OMR and are working with forestry and timber transport stakeholders on these matters. This will examine whether it might form an alternative route for road traffic in the short term or a more medium term.

“There is not an opening date at present for the A83 - our focus is to keep the OMR open as much as possible and to improve its resilience through the construction of the bund. Movements on the hillside, which are the reason the A83 remains closed, are being closely monitored during varying weather conditions and as this information is built up we will be able to consider a reopening strategy.”

Transport Scotland published details of the 11 “corridor options” for a new route to replace the landslip-prone section of the A83. These include building up to three bridges or tunnels. However, a decision is not expected until next year.

However, the choice of solution is not expected till next year.

The Old Military Road, was closed from 3.30pm on Monday to 9.30am on Tuesday. It was confirmed it will close once again overnight from 3.30pm on Tuesday as a safety precaution.