New Zealand may hold A83 solution

Campbeltown Courier - - NEWS - Mark Davey edi­tor@camp­bel­town­

An Ar­gyll man has sug­gested the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment could learn lessons from New Zealand to solve A83 Rest road clo­sures. In a let­ter to the Courier on Wed­nes­day, Richard Sten­nett from Taynuilt, high­lighted the Otira Gorge in New Zealand where a ma­jor road passes down a nar­row moun­tain val­ley. There avalanche shel­ters pro­tect the road and a viaduct on pil­lars moves traf­fic into the mid­dle of the val­ley, re­tain­ing the drive, through im­pres­sive scenery. Mr Sten­nett wrote: ‘Yet again on Oc­to­ber 9 Ar­gyll was phys­i­cally cut off from the out­side world. ‘There were land slips on the Rest and Be Thank­ful (RABT), a road traf­fic ac­ci­dent and flood­ing on the A85. ‘Politi­cians promised a solution and have spent mil­lions of our pounds on in­ad­e­quate fixes. ‘It is time for an imag­i­na­tive fix for the RABT and I at­tach pho­to­graphs of a solution to a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion at the Otira Gorge in New Zealand. ‘Our frag­ile links to the cen­tral belt can only have a neg­a­tive af­fect on the vi­a­bil­ity of the area.’ On the A83 Face­book group Don­ald Mor­ris has a more rad­i­cal solution, a 3.9km sin­gle bore tun­nel cost­ing about £261 mil­lion. Mr Mor­ris writes: ‘This would solve the Rest and Be Thank­ful prob­lems per­ma­nently and pro­vide a long term, re­li­able solution not sub­ject to the weather. ‘Costs are based upon Norwegian tech­niques. There are more than 900 tun­nels and the method­ol­ogy is well es­tab­lished.’ Tony Philpin from the Isle of Gigha replied: ‘Very in­ter­est­ing, £70m per km. We would have been able to get EU struc­tural funds for that in the old days .... ’ Stewart Dixon added: ‘What about the scenery. We wouldn’t see any­thing in a tun­nel.’ On Tues­day af­ter­noon in the Scot­tish par­lia­ment Green MSP John Fin­nie called for pri­or­ity in­vest­ment in the re­pair and main­te­nance of the A83 at the RABT. Mr Fin­nie said: ‘The Scot­tish gov­ern­ment, and the other three par­ties in par­lia­ment, sup­port a lav­ish road build­ing pro­gramme. ‘A stag­ger­ing £8 bil­lion has been com­mit­ted to com­ple­tion of the M8, du­alling of the A9, A96 and the new Aberdeen By­pass. ‘The pub­lic will note these van­ity projects are go­ing ahead while coun­cils in the High­lands and Is­lands are re­ceiv­ing rel­a­tive pen­nies to main­tain im­por­tant roads. ‘We must en­sure a cred­i­ble in­spec­tion, re­pair and re­place­ment regime is put in place with the present net­work rather than build new roads. ‘The Scot­tish gov­ern­ment will have to come up with a speedy and suit­able al­ter­na­tive that de­liv­ers for the peo­ple of Ar­gyll.’ As re­ported in last week’s Courier the A83 Task Force meets at 9.30am on Novem­ber 15 at the Loch Fyne Ho­tel and the Scot­tish trans­port sec­re­tary, Michael Mathe­son, is sched­uled to at­tend.

Photo by Richard Sten­nett.

A lorry trav­els down the high­way in Otira Gorge New Zealand.

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