A83 access to Argyll & Bute - preferred route corridor identified

A83 Rest and Be Thankful - wide shot

Major progress on all fronts as additional short and medium term plans at the A83 Rest and be Thankful and the long term preferred route corridor for Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) scheme is announced.

A preliminary assessment of all 11 route corridor options for improving access to Argyll and Bute and identifying a long term solution to the ongoing problems at the Rest and Be Thankful has been completed.

Following this work and the over 650 responses to the public consultation on the scheme, we are now able to let the public see the preferred route corridor outcome - this is the Glen Croe corridor Option 1 in the recent consultation.

The preferred route corridor is more cost effective and quicker to deliver, having significantly less environmental constraints.

Work on route options within the long term preferred corridor has been accelerated and we are presenting today the possible options for consideration in detailed assessment stages. It is important that all options are properly subjected to an evidence based assessment and we are particularly seeking feedback on any options we may have missed.

Public feedback has stressed the need to move quickly and we will be mindful of the impact of that on programme delivery, placing particular weight on the timescales that options may take to deliver as we move into the route options assessment stage.

All route options have technical construction challenges. The range of options spans traditional roads and localised structural protection to full tunnel options with a difference in construction timescales of up to two years for full tunnel options. The detailed assessment will also consider construction risk, cost and environmental impact of the options and an Statutory Environmental Assessment will be published in April.

We will be commencing the process of procuring long term consultancy services for this design work next month and taking forward further survey and assessment work in parallel with this procurement subject to COVID restrictions. We will continue to push on with progress during this period.

As part of the ongoing public engagement, we are today launching an interactive Story Map which will be developed and added to as the design moves forward and this will keep local communities and road users informed of progress on the project.  

In recognition of a need to act quickly, further short and medium term mitigation works at the Rest and be Thankful have also been identified.

A new debris cage, catchpit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures are being taken forward over the coming months to provide greater protection to the A83 and the Old Military Road.

We are also taking forward design work on medium term improvements to improve the resilience of the route through the Glen Croe corridor including consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP said:

“Following the disruption caused by landslips at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful, I understand the frustration and disruption that these bring for local communities and road users.

“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.

“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.

“Along with this work on the existing A83, we are working in parallel to identify a permanent solution to the road at the Rest and Be Thankful.  Following the conclusion of the preliminary assessment of the corridor options under consideration the preferred corridor has been identified as the Glen Croe corridor, Option 1.

“Identifying the preferred route corridor is a major step forward for this vital work and we are now pushing forward to look at five alternative options within that online corridor and starting the process shortly to appoint design consultants for this work. Following substantial public feedback our future assessment work will place particular emphasis on the timescale to deliver these options.

“As I made clear at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee last week, I have asked Transport Scotland to accelerate the preparation and delivery of the scheme where possible given the importance of the route to local communities and road users.

“However, we are required to follow the correct statutory process to ensure a fair and transparent assessment of options and impacts on local communities and road users.

“From today the new Story Map portal will provide regular updates on the design work as we look at alternative options within the preferred route corridor. We are also encouraging those with an interest to provide feedback on the preferred route corridor and possible route options between now and the end of May.

“All of this work underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to continued work with key stakeholders and local communities to ensure that Argyll & Bute remains open for business.”