Scotland’s transport minister visited the Rest and Be Thankful on Monday as work on a new emergency road nears completion.
Keith Brown called at the Glen Croe construction site to view work taking place to mitigate against landslides on the A83.
A new relief route, which uses the ‘Old Military Road’, forms part of a £3.7 million programme of work on the vital link between mainland Argyll and central Scotland.
The ‘Rest’ is also a key part of the alternative road route between Bute and the central belt via the Rhubodach-Colintraive ferry.
The route is expected to be completed as early as this week, with vehicle convoy test runs set to get underway to ensure smooth running of the road when needed.
Mr Brown said: “Despite the challenges brought by bouts of severe weather throughout this winter, I’m delighted to see work here on the emergency road nearing completion.
“Our focus remains to ensure that as far as is practicably possible, Argyll stays open for business.
“To this end, the team on the ground has worked seven days a week to overcome the significant engineering challenges needed to bring the Old Military Road up to the standard needed.
“Subject to weather or other unforeseen events, we expect the road to be completed and available for use as early as this week - a road which will provide a faster and much shorter alternative to the diversion routes road users have had to endure up until now.”
Closures of the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful, which have happened more and more in recent years as heavy rain destabilises the Glen Croe hillside, leave motorists facing either a lengthy diversion via the A82, A85 and A819, or a detour via the Dunoon or Bute ferry services, to reach much of Argyll.
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said; “Emergency vehicles, hauliers, locals going about their business, and tourists will all feel the benefits this new road will bring should we find ourselves facing another landslip.
“In particular, hauliers and local traders will make time and fuel savings - all the more welcome in the current economic squeeze.
“With the major engineering elements of the road substantially complete and some minor cosmetic work to be carried out, our operating company will soon be carrying out convoy trial runs for vehicles, including HGVs, in readiness should the need arise.
“Elsewhere, the latest phases of work, worth some £750,000, to install debris flow netting and debris catch pit on the hillside above the Rest and Be Thankful are progressing well with completion expected next month. The works will provide landslip mitigation measures with capacity for nearly 1500 cubic metres of material at key risk points along the hillside.
“In addition, the feasibility study looking at more permanent solutions to landslides in the area has been put to stakeholders for their views and its findings are due to be published shortly. I look forward to discussing the outputs from the report with the A83 Taskforce at its meeting next week.
“More widely, we have opened discussions aimed at helping Argyll and Bute Council develop a business case which will enable consideration to be given to trunking the route between Campbeltown and Kennacraig.
“All of these efforts underline our commitment to ensure we mitigate as far as possible against the closure of this key artery through Argyll.”
John Semple, the lead councillor for environment, development and infrastructure at Argyll and Bute Council, added: “I am very encouraged by the progress being made and would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the realisation of emergency route on the Old Military Road and also to those who got involved in the consultation process.
“There are likely to be a lot of challenges ahead in the completion of these essential works but from what I have seen to date, everyone involved is committed to positive engagement.
“Argyll is open for business and no longer should our businesses be involved in lengthy diversions.”