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A route adjacent to the existing A83 has been revealed as Argyll and Bute Council’s preferred option as a solution to problems at the Rest and Be Thankful.
However, the authority has also said that a further option to link Arden with Lochgilphead, making use of current roads and building two crossings over water, ‘may provide merit for longer term consideration’.
Councillors were recommended to approve the council’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Rest and Be Thankful at a full meeting yesterday (Thursday, October 22).
Continued landslips at the stretch of the A83 have led to closures, sometimes with the Old Military Road being unavailable.
That led to the Scottish Government committing to a permanent solution in August, with 11 options drafted by Transport Scotland the following month.
In its response to option one, the preferred option alongside the existing A83, the council said: ‘Argyll and Bute Council is ambitious for its area. That ambition must be tempered with a degree of realism – Argyll and Bute needs a solution to be delivered as soon as possible and the delivery timeline is a key issue in considering all the options.
‘That is why the council supports option one as offering realistic solutions which will increase resilience on the A83 and provide the uninterrupted year-round access that Argyll and Bute needs and deserves.
‘This route corridor appears, on the face of it, to offer the most deliverable set of solutions within an option, although these remain engineering projects of considerable significance and which will be complex to progress.’
Six of the other 10 options will not be supported by the council, while options two to five are not ruled out if they can be delivered sustainably.
Of those, the council rates option five as its preference. The route would make use of existing roads while new crossings would be built over Loch Long between Whistlefield and Barnacabber, and Loch Fyne between Otter Ferry and Port Ann.
Option two goes through Glen Kinglas, option three through Glen Fyne, and option four starts the same as option five from Arden, but moves north from Barnacabber to Cairndow.
On those four options, the council said: ‘These ambitious proposals have significant transformative potential for Argyll and Bute, increasing resilience as well as enhancing connectivity to, from and for all of Argyll and Bute, including opening up more direct connections to the central belt for communities like Mid Argyll and Kintyre.
‘If any of these options can be delivered or substantially progressed within an acceptable timeframe, then the council will support them.’
‘The opportunities arising from more direct access to and from the central belt could be truly transformational. The scale and ambition of these corridor options would suggest that they are longer term options.’
Councillor Rory Colville said: ‘Whilst some of the options put forward are to be welcomed, option one is the only one that can be delivered in a realistic timescale. I also believe that option five needs further deliberation as a longer term solution to unlock the historical link our area previously enjoyed with the central belt.’
Argyll First Councillor Donald Kelly added: ‘This has a long way to go and, like everyone, I just want to see a permanent solution delivered. The front runner appears to be option one and, if this proves to be feasible and affordable, we will need to maintain pressure on the Scottish Government to make sure it delivers as promised. I am sorry to sound sceptical but only when I see the first turf being cut will I finally believe that a new road will become a reality.’