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Work to identify a long term solution for the A83 at the Rest and Be Thankful is gathering pace despite the resignation of transport minister Graeme Dey earlier this week.
Mr Dey stepped down due to ‘health-related’ reasons and will be replaced by Jenny Gilruth, MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes.
The appointment has been welcomed by the Rest and Be Thankful campaign group whose spokesperson said: ‘We are hopeful that the new minister will be able to bring a fresh perspective and will be asking her for support to get Transport Scotland to make a decision, deliver a solution at the RABT and improve the lives of the people of Argyll.’
Before he resigned Mr Dey said that work was progressing on finding a medium-term, resilient route through Glen Croe while the long-term solution is developed.
Preliminary ground investigations are expected to get underway next month, as part of the design work to identify a preferred route option for the long-term solution.
Transport Scotland has confirmed Raeburn Drilling and Geotechnical Ltd has been appointed to undertake the £1.8 million contract which is expected to last eight-10 weeks, ending at the end of April, weather permitting.
Kintyre councillor Robin Currie has welcomed the announcement: ‘I’m glad to see that the Scottish Government has given assurances that the situation at the Rest is being treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves, and welcome this latest step in that process.’
In a statement issued last Thursday Transport Scotland said that the costs reflected both the challenging landscape presented at the route and the range and nature of the options under consideration.
Mr Dey assured residents and road users that the situation was being treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserved, with measures to maintain connectivity on a short, medium and long-term basis all being pursued.
‘We recognise that the timescales for developing an alternative to the current route and finding a long-term solution to the challenges created by the Rest and Be Thankful section of the A83 are frustrating for the local community.
‘However, this scheme is technically challenging and the landscape is dynamic so it is vital we understand the terrain we are working in, in order to develop a suitable solution of the correct standard in the correct place.’
In the mean time a second petition, raised by Kintyre councillors Donald Kelly and Dougie Philand, pressing for a public inquiry into the political and financial management of the A83 problems has been given a stay of execution by the Scottish Parliament Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee.
Argyll First Councillor Donald Kelly told the Courier: ‘It is good that the petition is being continued but greater scrutiny on how we have gone from £2-3 million for mitigation measures in 2012 to £100 million in 2021 is required.
‘In 2012 the permanent solution was costed at £68 million and would have been delivered by now.
‘The question we are asking is who is benefiting and who is responsible for this ongoing waste of public money?’
At its meeting on January 19 the committee agreed to defer the matter to the Scottish Government ‘to get a definitive answer on what the petition is calling for’ despite members voicing reservations about ‘going down the public enquiry route’.