Argyll urged to speak up as A83 options are revealed
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.