A NEW A83 route which could include a tunnel close to the notorious lifeline road which has suffered decades of landslides has been identified as the Scottish Government's favoured solution.

Transport Scotland says its preferred route, via Glen Croe, is "more cost-effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly less environmental constraints".

READ MORE: 1000 businesses air new safety concerns after seven months of chaos on the A83 at Rest and be Thankful

It was among 11 options put forward last year for a long-term solution to years of disruption for road traffic between central Scotland and Argyll.

But that choice has now led to five new options on the table for the new Glen Croe route, some of which include tunnels up to 1.8 miles long.

HeraldScotland:

No timescale or likely costs has been announced over the permanent solution to the chaos of  the Rest and Be Thankful, but the tunnel options could take up to two years longer than the others.

The announcement came as a group of over 1000 business  warned that seven months of disruption to the route because of landslips have created new safety risks and have set a 2024 deadline for a permanent solution.

It has been in and out of action since August, last year after a landslide - and a newly formed Rest and Be Thankful Campaign has warned the transport secretary of the consequences of 220 days of disruption.

The campaign launched by Inverneill resident John Gurr and backed by business leaders from across Argyll, Kintyre, Mid Argyll and Cowal and supported by the Road Haulage Association and NFU Scotland want Michael Matheson to scrap the 10-year recovery plan and implement a timescale of two to five years.

The group are demanding a completion date of May 2024.

Other suggested options by Transport Scotalnd have included building bridges across the Gareloch and Loch Long and diverting traffic through Helensburgh, and even building bridges linking Ayrshire, Cumbrae, Bute and Cowal.

Having now confirmed the Glen Croe route – which previously won the backing of Argyll and Bute Council – as its preferred corridor, Transport Scotland now plans to put together five detailed options for an alternative route through the area.

The agency also says a new debris cage, catch pit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures will also be taken forward over the coming months to provide the A83 with greater protection.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson MSP said he understood the "frustration and disruption" caused by years of closures to the trunk road in Glen Croe.

"We are progressing substantial short-term investment in the existing A83 including installing a debris cage and new culvert, construction of an additional catchpit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures at the River Croe crossing.

HeraldScotland:

“I can also announce today that I have asked Transport Scotland to progress work to look at a medium-term resilient route through Glen Croe, including consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish ministers.

“Depending on the statutory consents required, this work will seek to develop finalised proposals within 18 months.

The important Highlands route was barely open in any way for three weeks in the last five months to mid-January after a landslip brought about by rain blocked the road in August.

Since January, transport chiefs adopted a strategy that was to see the the main road used during the day when weather conditions permit.

During the night-time, the single track alternative route, the Old Military Road (OMR) was to be used, which also is run through a single file convoy system, where drivers are escorted along the route.

But since further landslips and threats of falling boulders have caused further disruption.

Drivers have had to endure diversion of up to 59 miles when both routes are closed.

But campaigners warned Mr Matheson that the ultimate diversion along the A82 route is a "safety risk" with increased HGV traffic on a road not wide enough to travel safely. The have warned that tankers get stuck in the OMR diversion, which impacts the £700m whisky industry, fuel deliveries into the region and milk transport to the nearest dairy in Ayr.

The campaigners say that the region's tourist industry is facing a "double whammy" from Covid-19 and the fact would-be visitors to the area find it "increasingly too difficult, unpredictable or unsafe to travel".

Last month, road experts said they were in a race against time to find solutions after it was claimed that 100,000 tonnes of debris is waiting to fall on the A83.

The Scottish Government's transport agency's route manager Neil MacFarlane gave the warning about the latest movement as he 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.