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Transport Scotland has today revealed it favours ‘option one’ from 11 potential long-term fixes for the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful.
The agency said the Glen Croe route is its so-called ‘preferred route corridor option’ – which Argyll and Bute Council backed as the pick of the bunch in October.
It comes after each route was assessed by Transport Scotland with more than 650 responses to a public consultation between September 23 and October 30 last year.
Transport Scotland said as a long-term solution, option one is more ‘cost effective and quicker to deliver’ with ‘significantly less environmental constraints’ than the others.
With any long-term solution years away, it has also set out short and medium term work in the area after another disruptive series of landslides during the last year.
Michael Matheson MSP, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said: ‘Identifying the preferred route corridor is a major step forward for this vital work and we are now pushing forward to look at five alternative options within that online corridor and starting the process shortly to appoint design consultants for this work.
‘All route options have technical construction challenges. The range of options spans traditional roads and localised structural protection to full tunnel options with a difference in construction timescales of up to two years for full tunnel options.
‘The detailed assessment will also consider construction risk, cost and environmental impact of the options and a Statutory Environmental Assessment will be published in April.’
He added: ‘As part of the ongoing public engagement, we are today launching an interactive Story Map (see below) which will be developed and added to as the design moves forward and this will keep communities and road users informed of progress on the project.’
Mr Matheson said public feedback had stressed the need to move quickly and it would be ‘mindful of the impact of that on programme delivery’; with particular weight placed on the timescales that options may take to deliver.
Transport Scotland has also been asked to progress work on a ‘medium term’ resilient route through Glen Croe.
This, said Mr Matheson, includes ‘consideration of the Forestry Track, the Old Military Road and other options on land already owned by Scottish Ministers’.
‘Depending on the statutory consents required, this work will seek to develop finalised proposals within 18 months,’ he added.
Substantial ‘short term investment in the existing A83’ is also going to be undertaken, added Mr Matheson.
This would include installing a ‘debris cage and new culvert,’ construction of an additional catch-pit, debris fencing and flood mitigation measures at the River Croe crossing.
‘All of this work underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to continued work with key stakeholders and local communities to ensure Argyll and Bute remains open for business,’ he said.
The newly-launched ‘Story Map for the Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) scheme’ and the full consultation report can be found at: Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) (transport.gov.scot)
Transport Scotland said the Story Map introduces a second public consultation on the route corridor assessment and the possible route options within the preferred corridor.
‘All options have technical construction challenges to resolve and we will be mindful of the impact of that on programme delivery as we move into the assessment stage,’ it said.
‘In addition, we are interested in hearing if there are any other options we should be considering within the route corridor selected,’ it said.
The consultation will run until Friday May 28. The consultation materials and feedback form are found at the above link.
Transport Scotland said the project team undertook preliminary assessment work on all 11 route corridors.
A report summarising this work has also been published on the project website.