SCOTLAND's most notorious road is set to be out of action for three days for safety reasons.

Road maintenance workers are due to close the A83 at the Rest And Be Thankful which is vulnerable to landslides on Friday.

When the crucial Highland's artery is shut, motorists are sent onto a single track route, the Old Military Road (OMR), which runs through the centre of Glen Croe and acts as a diversion using a convoy system.

Scottish Government-appointed maintenance firm Bear Scotland has said that decisions taken were the result of continuing forecasts of rain and "high hillside saturation levels".

The road is expected to be out of action from 7pm on Friday to the end of Sunday, subject to outcomes of hillside inspections.

A Bear Scotland spokesman said: "Given the current heavy and persistent rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, motorists using the A83 Rest and Be Thankful will be diverted onto the Old Military Road. The OMR is expected to continue to be used over the weekend.

"Our team continues to have a presence on site and are monitoring conditions closely."

It is the first major stoppage since it was shut for seven successive days in January.

The Herald:

The A83 at the Rest had been operating under a traffic lights system after a series of landslips over a number of years that have put the important Highlands route out of action for weeks at a time.   The lights system ended more recently.

When there are further concerns road managers set up a convoy system on the A83 stretch.

Only when there are the most serious concerns do road managers divert to the OMR, which was originally built by General George Wade in response to the Jacobite uprisings in the 18th Century.

The A83 is an almost 100-mile trunk road connecting the Mull of Kintyre and southern Argyll to the shores of Loch Lomond.

About 1.3 million vehicles travel the route every year and it acts as an important transport link for mainland Argyll as well as the Inner Hebrides.

Campaigners who have long called for a full public inquiry to determine why the road is still not fixed, have previously demanded transport minister Jenny Gilruth to intervene to provide a shorter term solution.

Rest and Be Thankful campaign chairman and local resident, John Gurr said: "It has to be safety first but I am disappointed we are going to have to wait more years before this situation changes."

The Herald: The Old Military Road

Another campaigner said: "If action had been taken early enough we would not be in this awful situation.  We can only hope that the solutions proposed resolve this long-standing problem."

In June, Transport Scotland unveiled plans for its preferred option of building a £470M debris flow shelter to protect the A83's Rest and Be Thankful section.

The scheme comprises a mile-long, open-sided tunnel, costed at between £405M and £470M. Its selection follows design and assessment work on five options through the Glen Croe valley.

A debris flow shelter is akin to a tunnel with one open side and is a recognised means of protecting transport infrastructure and its users from falling rock and debris in areas susceptible to debris flows or landslides. Meanwhile improvements to the OMR are expected to be made while a long-term solution is progressed.

Moves over installing a series of catch-pits aimed at preventing road closures came after a landslip around 650 feet above the carriageway shut the road in August, 2020.

Catch pits are designed to ‘capture’ debris material from a landslip and prevent it from reaching the road.

Engineers said thousands of tonnes of debris including car-sized boulders slid onto the road after 100mm of rain hit the Argyll hills.

There has been criticism over millions being "wasted" over what is considered to be failed temporary fixes.

Two years ago officials said that it may take ten years for a permanent solution to stop landslides on the iconic Scots road.

Argyll and Bute Council have said they wanted a new replacement route within the life of the current Scottish Parliament.

A campaign backed by 1500 businesses has been pushing for the scheme to fix landslip issues described by one MSP as a "dog of a project" to be delivered by 2024 after an over 15-year failure to prevent disruption.

But ministers have confirmed that the timescale for a permanent solution remains at between seven to ten years to complete after being approved.

There has been no timescale given for the shelter plan.

A BEAR Scotland spokesman said: “The decision to divert traffic to the Old Military Road from Friday evening is a proactive response to the forecast weather.  Persistent and heavy rain is forecast throughout the weekend, indicating that ground saturation on the hillside means using the OMR is appropriate on safety grounds. 

“Decisions on the most appropriate traffic management arrangements for the A83 are influenced by a number of factors, including the forecast weather, hillside conditions and ground saturation."