Minister reveals plans for lifeline Argyll trunk road

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WORK on upgrading the A83 trunk road is far from finished, a Scottish Government minister was reminded this week.

On a trip to Lochgilphead on Wednesday at the invitation of Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce, transport minister Humza Yousaf outlined the latest developments, taking questions from the audience.

His visit follows the latest meeting of the A83 taskforce – a group comprising business managers, councillors, civil servants, engineers and others – in Arrochar last week.

Speaking on Wednesday at Argyll and Bute Council headquarters, Kilmory, in front of business people from across the region, Mr Yousaf said: ‘Last week’s taskforce meeting was really positive and constructive.

‘I feel that we are getting towards a solution for the Rest and be Thankful.’

The latest developments to improve the A83 will involve more landslide mitigation at The Rest and Glen Kinglas as well as wider improvements at Whitebridge Cottage, Furnace and Strone Point near Inveraray.

At Strone Point, the plan is to widen the road around the notorious bend by cutting into the hillside. There is a delay, however, as Keith Murray of Transport Scotland told the meeting: ‘We are in negotiations with the contractor over contractual issues,’ he explained. ‘But the project will begin in the next financial year, probably after the summer.’

The Strone Point scheme is expected to take around five months to complete.

At the Rest, work has begun in preparation for the construction of three pits at higher risk sites designed to gather debris during landslips and protect the road, in conjunction with existing netting. Another longer-term plan is to plant trees on the hillside above the rest to bind the soil and soak up some of the rainfall. This, however, is contingent upon the authorities first acquiring the land.

The importance of the A83 in tackling depopulation across Argyll was stressed by Inveraray hotelier Donald Clark, though his question was relayed in his absence by chamber of commerce secretary Jane MacLeod.

‘Transport cuts across many other government departments,’ said Mr Yousaf. ‘It impacts on health, education, employment and more.’
He added: ‘Depopulation is a huge issue, and we need to look at an overarching strategy to tackle it.’

Mrs MacLeod added a note of caution as she reminded the meeting: ‘We are not at the end of the road with the A83, and the work of the taskforce will continue.’

Referring to the Rest mitigation works, she added: ‘It is a misnomer to call this a permanent solution, as hillsides are constantly moving.’