Ar­gyll urged to speak up as A83 op­tions are re­vealed

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Colin Cameron editor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has re­vealed the ea­gerly-an­tic­i­pated 11 op­tions to im­prove Ar­gyll’s road con­nec­tion and avoid the treach­er­ous A83 at the Rest and be Thank­ful.

As a five-week con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod was an­nounced on Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 23, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Trans­port, In­fra­struc­ture and Con­nec­tiv­ity Michael Mathe­son said: ‘Fol­low­ing the re­cent land­slips at the A83 Rest and be Thank­ful, I un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion and dis­rup­tion that these bring for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and road users.

‘Trans­port Scot­land is now tak­ing for­ward the project devel­op­ment and as­sess­ment work re­quired to de­liver an al­ter­na­tive in­fra­struc­ture so­lu­tion to the ex­ist­ing A83, in par­al­lel with the sec­ond Strate­gic Trans­port Projects Re­view.’

Mr Mathe­son said Trans­port Scot­land was com­mit­ted to ‘mean­ing­ful di­a­logue with di­rectly af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and other stake­hold­ers’.

A new web­site – Ac­cess to Ar­gyll and Bute (A83) – out­lines the 11 cor­ri­dor op­tions un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, and public com­ments should be sub­mit­ted by Oc­to­ber 30.

A ded­i­cated project team will de­cide on a pre­ferred route cor­ri­dor by spring 2021.

Jo Blewett, Trans­port Scot­land’s project direc­tor for Ac­cess to Ar­gyll and Bute (A83), said: ‘This is the first of sev­eral en­gage­ment ex­er­cises that will take place be­tween now and spring 2021, and at this stage we are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in any lo­cal con­straints or is­sues that will help in­form our de­sign and as­sess­ment work.

‘As part of our de­sign work, we are also seek­ing con­tact from lo­cal com­mu­nity groups to help plan our fu­ture pro­gramme of en­gage­ment.’

Long­stand­ing cam­paigner for a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion to the Rest prob­lem, Coun­cil­lor

Dougie Phi­land en­cour­aged peo­ple in Ar­gyll to make their views known. ‘We are be­ing of­fered a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to get a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for the cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties and it is vi­tal we all re­spond,’ he said.

But the mem­ber for Mid Ar­gyll went on: ‘I have a con­cern that op­tions here are not re­al­is­tic or af­ford­able. They should not be used as a smoke­screen when con­sult­ing with the public. I sim­ply hope that a re­al­is­tic out­come for this vi­tal project will be the end re­sult.’

‘The fact that it has been brought for­ward faster than an­tic­i­pated is a good sign and shows the very se­ri­ous in­tent by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to get a new road oper­at­ing as soon as pos­si­ble,’ said Michael Rus­sell, MSP for Ar­gyll and Bute. He added: ‘I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one with an in­ter­est in this – and that means ev­ery­one in Cowal, Kin­tyre, Mid Ar­gyll, Bute, Is­lay and Colon­say – to take a look and say what they think.’

Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara wel­comed the ini­tia­tive, but ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that tun­nels were not be­ing con­sid­ered. Mr O’Hara said: ‘I be­lieve that [tun­nels] would be the best long-term an­swer to this prob­lem, but what­ever so­lu­tion is cho­sen from the op­tions be­ing looked at, it can­not come quickly enough.’

The feed­back form can also be found on the Ar­gyll­shire Ad­ver­tiser Face­book page.

Michael Mathe­son, cab­i­net sec­re­tary for trans­port, in­fra­struc­ture and con­nec­tiv­ity. In­set: ‘Mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures’ such as road­side catch pits are not the an­swer, and a per­ma­nent al­ter­na­tive is now be­ing sought.

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