A83 reopens after landslides cleared

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The A83 road in Argyll has reopened after several landslides forced closures lasting more than a week.

Traffic was shut off from the Rest And Be Thankful since thousands of tonnes of debris reached catch-fences above the carriageway on Tuesday October 9 following heavy rain.

Motorists initially faced a 60-mile reroute, as the Old Military Road alternative route was also affected by boulders which had fallen during the incident.

Road operating company BEAR Scotland said around 3,000 tonnes of debris has now been cleared from the fences and roadway on the A83, fence repairs have been carried out and additional drainage installed.

Following a final safety assessment and police check the road was reopened at around 11.20am on Thursday.

Temporary traffic lights will remain in place for safety while teams working on landslip mitigation measures.

A 24-hour recovery vehicle and additional patrols will be laid on for the next few days to help keep traffic moving during the reopening.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s North West Representative, said: “Following a full safety assessment this morning along with representatives from Police Scotland, we were pleased to reopen the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful following the multiple landslides last week.

“Teams from multiple organisations have worked tirelessly in what has been challenging conditions to do all they can to secure the slope above the road, repair the fences and keep the Old Military Road and other routes into Argyll open.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Argyll and Bute Council, councillor Aileen Morton, is to ask the Scottish Government to formally commit to identifying and funding a permanent solution to keep the road open.

Councillors unanimously agreed the action at a full council meeting on Thursday as they said the “failure” of the recent works to keep the road open means an urgent review is needed.

Ms Morton said: “This council, local residents, businesses and parliamentarians have all been clear for years that a permanent solution for the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful is absolutely essential, that the negative impact of the road closures and the negative impact of the reporting of the road closures is detrimental to Argyll’s communities.

“What made this latest closure so significant is the fact that the landslides and severe weather also wiped out, for a period, the supposed solution to the problem – the Old Military Road, which too remained closed until Monday 15th October, one full week after the first landslide

“The failure of the most recent works to keep the road open demands an urgent review of existing and future plans at the Rest and Be Thankful.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I saw the size of the operation myself, and there is no doubt these have been some of the most challenging landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful in recent memory.”

He thanked locals for their patients and the recovery team for the their work.

He added: “We are very aware of the importance of the A83 to this region and £66m has been spent on the maintenance of this route since 2007.”

He said this includes more than £9.6 million towards landslide mitigation and diversion.

A further £2 million of mitigation works are underway and the Minister said the A83 Taskforce would be reconvened next month to consider the challenges posed by the road.

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