Reacting to the closure of the Rest and Be Thankful earlier this week, and the failure to open the Old Military Road Diversion after further landslips today, Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell said:
“I was at the Rest this morning, as was the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, though we were at different sides of the new slips that suddenly occurred as a result of torrential rain and high wind.
Personally, I have never seen more water coming off the hills, nor more extensive damage to the slopes. I know that the team from Transport Scotland and Bear are doing their utmost to get the roads open again but in these conditions they are working against severe odds. They deserve the community’s gratitude and support as they continue with their very difficult tasks.
I am more than aware of the inconvenience this closure causes to many of my constituents. On Wednesday my journey to Glasgow Airport from home took three hours, not the normal one and a half. Last night coming back from Edinburgh very late I had to drive an extra 40 miles, which took an hour more than the normal trip. There is disruption to road haulage, normal journeys and special outings. Local business is losing money. It is frustrating and annoying and everyone wants – and needs – normal service to be resumed.
However the truly exceptional conditions of the weekend and the ongoing bad weather means that the road needs to be declared sustainably safe before that can happen. The presence of the nets and the partially completed work on the deep trenches has helped and indeed the trenches have prevented many closures in the last few years. Their presence also means that the task of clear up and re-opening will be more straight forward than it would otherwise have been once the go ahead can be given.
The reality is that on this occasion the sheer scale of the damage has been much larger and longer lasting than ever before, and more difficult to overcome but lessons need to be learnt from that too.
Along with local Councillors on both sides of the rest and the local MP I am pressing for an urgent meeting of the A83 Task Force to consider those lessons and ensure that the new Transport Minister is absolutely aware of the A83 as unfinished business which needs further action and investment.