Monday, 17 December 2012

Draft proposals for A83 put forward for Taskforce consideration

Ministerial update on landslip mitigation work A draft feasibility study has been published which looks at options to minimise the effects of landslips at the Rest and Be Thankful, and removes traffic pinch points and improves pedestrian safety on the A83. The findings were put to the A83 Taskforce to allow proper consideration of the options available before a final plan is agreed. Speaking after the third meeting of the Taskforce in Arrochar today, Mr Brown said: “The last few weeks have been a challenge for local communities who have had to endure another landslip at the Rest and Be Thankful only last month and all of the impact and inconvenience this brings. This has brought our work sharply into focus, and all the more timely is the draft feasibility study which has been presented to the Taskforce today. “The analysis of the problems and potential solutions offered by the consultants tasked with the work is detailed and thorough and will give the Taskforce considerable food for thought. There are a number of options put forward, and I now look to the Taskforce members to digest the findings before we seek to agree a way forward. “Elsewhere, work on the emergency diversion route has taken more strides forward, and since the Taskforce last met a formal legal agreement with the landowner has been put in place which has allowed the contractor to progress works on the section of the Old Military Road which sits on private land. Construction is progressing swiftly with the team on the ground working flat out to deliver an emergency route for use by the end of next month, subject to weather and no unforeseen engineering problems arising. The new emergency route will give us an alternative option to keep traffic moving along the A83 in the event the road is forced to close at the Rest and Be Thankful, and I look forward to seeing the new road for myself when finished. “Significant investment has been provided towards minimising the effects of landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful, including construction of the emergency diversion route. Coupled with the next phase of works to install protective debris netting which has started this week, investment on landslip mitigations works at the Rest and Be Thankful sits at over £3.7 million. “A good deal of very positive work has been carried out, with more hard work and tough decisions ahead. With the Taskforce set up to ensure we and our partners remain resolute and focussed on the task at hand, every effort is being made to deliver workable solutions to mitigate against landslips at the Rest and Be Thankful and more generally improve the performance of the A83 for the benefit of road users across Argyll.” Lead Councillor for Development and Infrastructure at Argyll & Bute Council, John Semple added: “Argyll and Bute Council is committed to helping make our communities better connected not just for commerce, trade and tourism but to reduce exclusion of remote and fragile areas. The options identified today provide a strong and well-proportioned basis for taking that commitment forward through the A83 Task Force. “Over the next few weeks we will be studying the options and weighing up which provides the best all round solution. I am particularly keen to see that the disturbance caused by whichever option is progressed minimises the impact on Argyll businesses during construction. We must ensure the strong message is sent that Argyll is open for business. “I am also very pleased that other pinch-points and safety issues on the A83 are being tackled. When complete, these measures will significantly improve the journey from Campbeltown to the central belt and improve safety for all road users. The most welcoming reassurance we have had today is that all of the options provided will, once complete, render the flashing warning signs redundant.” BACKGROUND 1. The draft feasibility study can be found here 2. Membership of the Taskforce includes representatives from Argyll and Bute Council, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, HITRANS, Mid Argyll Chambers of Commerce, timber and tourism groups, ferry operators and National Farmers Union, Transport Scotland, and its consultants. 3. A new Transport Scotland web portal has been set-up on the RABT: 4. Transport Scotland considers that the Old Military Road has a number of advantages over the forest track as an emergency diversion. It is wider with no steep slopes over most of its length. The engineering is simpler and the alignment is generally straighter with less severe consequences, should a vehicle leave the road. In addition, the road construction is more substantial reducing the need for thick resurfacing layers to be laid to carry traffic loads.. Some of this road is privately owned and permission is necessary from the landowner before construction starts. This includes accommodation work, compensation and agreement to the procedures that would be set in place when the road is required for use. These complex and voluntary arrangements can take some time to agree but commitment has been confirmed by the landowner to allow us to plan ahead as fast as possible. 5. Earlier this year Transport Scotland announced a study to investigate the feasibility of improvements on the A83 trunk road. The study has looked closely at what more can be done in managing the effects of landslides at the Rest and be Thankful, including long-term engineering options such as rock shelters, stabilisation using vegetation techniques and investigating alternative access routes to mid Argyll. The Taskforce will consider its findings before a final report is published. 6. In recent years, the Scottish Government has invested over £16 million on the maintenance of the trunk road section of the A83. For example, Transport Scotland has carried out a route accident reduction plan study along the entire length of the A83 trunk road from Arrochar to Furnace. The resulting scheme was broken down into three phases to allow construction over a two year period, to the value of £615,000. The works installed included surfacing, high friction surfacing, signing, lining and bend assessment works to provide drivers with a consistent message when approaching challenging bends along the route. 7. Transport Scotland is the Scottish Government’s national transport agency responsible for; aviation, bus, freight and taxi policy; coordinating the National Transport Strategy for Scotland; ferries, ports and harbours; impartial travel services; liaising with regional transport partnerships, including monitoring of funding; local roads policy; major public transport projects; national concessionary travel schemes; rail and trunk road networks; sustainable transport, road safety and accessibility; the Blue Badge Scheme. Transport Scotland is an Executive agency accountable to Scottish Ministers.