Mile-long tunnel to shield A83 Rest and Be Thankful from landslips

A tunnel spanning a mile in length is set to be constructed to shield vehicles from landslides on one of Scotland’s most notable tourist roads. The A83 Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll has experienced frequent closures due to falling rocks and debris in recent times. These closures often lead to lengthy detours for motorists as the route is cleared. Transport Scotland has now revealed plans for an open-sided shelter, costing up to £470m, as its preferred solution.

The A83, stretching nearly 100 miles (161km), is a significant trunk road connecting the Mull of Kintyre and southern Argyll to the Loch Lomond shoreline. Approximately 1.3 million vehicles traverse the route annually, serving as a vital transport link for mainland Argyll and the Inner Hebrides. However, the Rest and Be Thankful section, a steep ascent from Glen Croe near Arrochar, is susceptible to landslides and was closed for a total of 200 days in 2020.

The road earned its name as travellers and drovers would pause at the summit of the 800ft climb to catch their breath. When the road is closed, an old military road beneath it, originally constructed by General George Wade in response to the 18th-century Jacobite uprisings, is opened to traffic. If both roads are closed, a 59-mile (95km) diversion via Crianlarich must be implemented.

Transport Scotland stated that the debris flow shelter, which would be approximately 0.9 miles (1.4km) long, was chosen over four other design options and would cost between £405m and £470m. Transport Minister Kevin Stewart commented on the government’s efforts to find a long-term solution to the landslide risks.

He said: “The identification of the preferred route option through the Glen Croe valley is a very important milestone in finding a solution to this long-standing problem. The proposed new debris flow shelter will help protect the road and road users from future landslides.”

Public exhibitions of the new tunnel plan will be held for four days from June 12 in Arrochar and then Lochgilphead. An online exhibition will also be available from Friday.

The transport minister added: “Work will now be taken forward at pace to further develop our proposals, including the detailed development and assessment of the preferred option along with the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment, draft Road Orders and draft Compulsory Purchase Orders. At the same time as progressing the long-term solution, we are looking to increase the resilience of the temporary diversion route along the existing Old Military Road, having identified the preferred route solution for it late last year.”

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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