A NOTORIOUS lifeline Scots road has had to be totally shut for five days following fears of huge boulders falling from a nearby hill, it has emerged.

The infamous A83 at Rest and be Thankful has been shut on-and-off for months since a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road in August.

That was the latest in a long line of landslips that have plagued the key Highlands road.

Since Monday, teams from the Transport Scotland-appointed maintenance firm Bear Scotland have worked to complete stabilisation work high up on the hillside at the Rest and Be Thankful after large boulders were exposed following heavy rain last week. The closure came only a matter of days after it had been shut down for several days due to rain.

The Herald:

It was re-opened during Friday, but did not reopen on Saturday due to the boulders concern.  These were monitored and then stabilised on Monday and Tuesday with the A83 reopening earlier on Wednesday.

It comes as the Rest road was brought back into action in January as part of a strategy that was to see the A83 road used during the day when weather conditions permit.

Before the A83 re-opening, Bear said a debris fence had been completed on hillside above the road to provide further protection to road users.

The boulders, located some 765 yards east of the major landslips in August and September last year, were made safe using equipment which was lifted onto the hillside by helicopters on Monday and Tuesday this week. The single track Old Military Road, which has been used on a convoy basis when the A83 was shut, remained in use for all motorists as a safety precaution while this work was completed.

READ MORE: Anger as £1m barrier fails to stop A83 at Rest and be Thankful shutting again after landslip

On Wednesday, Bear Scotland confirmed the road had been re-opened to road uses at 8.20am after a safety assessment.

From tomorrow, the route will remain in use but only from 7.15am to 6pm each day with all traffic being diverted via the OMR which runs parallel to the A83 through Glen Croe, outwith these times.

Bear teams are now continuing with further mitigation work in the area including the development of another catch-pit at the bottom of the steep channel formed by landslips in August and September last year, as well as strengthening the debris fences in the area.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north west representative said: “We’re continuing to operate on a safety-first approach and will have a team on site carrying out daily safety inspections and assessments of the hillside to afford protection to road users and our operatives who continue to undertake works.

“Teams are continuing mitigation work at the Rest, including developing the next debris catch-pit next to the A83 roadside, as well as work to strengthen the debris fences at sections of the route.

“As ever we thank all road users and the local community for their continued patience as we do all we can to continue to address the ongoing situation at the Rest.”

The Herald:

The OMR local diversion was used through to Wednesday while mitigation work continued high above the A83.

The A83 was shut for several days because of heavy rain before being re-opened last Friday.

The iconic route was open for barely three weeks in the five months since a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road in August. Drivers face up to 59-mile diversions when both routes are closed.

On February 21, both the A83 and the OMR had to be shut a matter of days after another landslide.

The A83 had already been shut for three days after an overnight downpour increased the risk of substantial amounts of debris sliding on to the road from the adjacent hillside.

It was estimated around 250 tonnes of debris reached the OMR overnight.

The Herald:

That is despite £1m being spent on 175-metre long, 6.6 metre high barrier having been built next to the OMR to stop debris from a potential landslip.

The Scottish Government's transport agency's route manager Neil MacFarlane recently told community leaders in the area that 2020 saw 20,000 tonnes fall onto the infamous A83 at the Rest and be Thankful – double what has fallen in nearly two decades.

And he said that Transport Scotland was looking at 12 options to prevent further calamity with "100,000 tonnes on the move on the hill"

READ MORE: Race against time to stop 100,000 tonnes of debris falling on the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful

The A83 has been closed for safety due to a series of major landslips experienced throughout 2020 and so far in 2021.

Since August most traffic was being convoyed by an official vehicle on the OMR but even that has been frequently shut overnight because of fears that even it could be hit by landslides - leaving motorists with the 60-mile detours.

Ministers have previously been accused of wasting nearly £80 million on more than a decade of failed solutions to landslides on the road 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.

In September, Transport Scotland published 11 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 till later this year.