HOPES of getting a swift permanent solution to fixing Scotland's most notorious road have been dashed as ministers have confirmed it may not be completed till 2033.

A campaign backed by 1500 businesses has been pushing for the scheme to fix landslip issues on the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful 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.

And it has been confirmed that the preferred option is not expected to be approved till the spring of next year.

It comes as the key Highlands route has suffered a new wave of closures over fears of landslips since the start of October.

Campaigners have been long called for a full public inquiry to determine why road which is vulnerable to landslides is still not fixed. In 2020 it had to be shut for over 200 days.

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

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 key road in August, 2020.

Transport Scotland has already established a preferred route via Glen Croe.

There currently five options on the table for the route, some of which include tunnels of up to 1.8 miles long. A tunnel option could take up to two years longer than the others.


Flashback to past landslip. Source: Bear Scotland

It has emerged that in response to calls for a public inquiry into the management of the road in the wake of calls of swift solutions, the transport minister Jenny Gilruth has told MSPs that a permanent solution was a "priority" but confirmed that it would take seven to ten years to complete.

"We recognise that the timescales for developing an alternative to the current route and finding a long-term solution to the challenges created by the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 are frustrating for the local community. However, this scheme is technically challenging and the landscape is dynamic so it is vital we understand the terrain we are working in, in order to develop a suitable solution of the correct standard in the correct place," she said in a response the public inquiry call made to MSPs.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the timescales given when there is still not agreed solution were a "concern".

And Scottish Labour Party's Paul Sweeney, shadow minister for employment and public finance said: "This is yet another dog of a project which has gone on for far too long. And the huge administrative cost associated with constant procrastination has been completely unacceptable.

"This vital artery which is critical to access of any kind to the west Highlands has been stagnating on the backburner for so long."

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.

The road is to shut yet again for two nights - later this month for a new wave of maintenance works.

Bear Scotland, the road maintenance firm contracted by the Scottish Government's Transport Scotland agency, has said that the road will be out of action from between 4pm till 8am on November 15 and 16 for BT to carry out "essential maintenance works to their roadside infrastructure".

Bear said it will also allow repairs to BT access chambers "within the live carriageway".

When the road 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.

A landslip in August, 2020 ushered in a series of road closures for the important Highlands route which by January, 2021 had meant it was open for barely three weeks in the space of five months.

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

The A83 at the Rest has since been operating under a traffic lights system after further landslips.

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


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

In August, the Scottish Government announced a £25 million investment for design and development work for the route through Glen Croe.

The final award was given by the Scottish Government transport agency to a joint venture featuring Quebec-based consultants WSP and engineering and project management consultants Atkins, which is a subsidary of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin.