Route options for A83 (Rest and Be Thankful)

Since 2017, the A83 trunk road has been closed several times by landslips in the vicinity of the Rest and Be Thankful in Glen Croe. Attempts to ameliorate the problem have had little effect. The damage being done to the economy of Argyll and the danger to life and limb posed for road users prompted the government agency Transport Scotland to seek a viable solution to the problem. An initial public consultation paper, published in September 2020, sought opinions regarding various possible alternative routes avoiding Glen Croe. These were later adjudged to be unsuitable for a variety of reasons, leading to the conclusion that a Glen Croe route was the best option but would require the modification or replacement of the existing road to protect it from risk of landslips.

Dr Jim MacDonald, who is a past president of the Geological Society of Glasgow, had reached a similar conclusion in a case study which he submitted on 19th October 2020 in which he recommended that the possibility of re-routing the A83(T) along the SW side of Glen Croe should be investigated.

A further public consultation document, published in March 2021, suggested five options, including the building of an extensive viaduct to raise the road above the potential path of future landslips, a protective gallery above the road so that landslips would pass safely over it, two alternative routes involving the construction of long tunnels, and an entirely new route on the SW side of the glen. Advantages and disadvantages of each of these alternatives were listed.

Dr Chris Burton (who is also a past president of the society) and Jim visited Glen Croe on two occasions in March 2021 to assess the practicality of a new route on the SW side of the glen, named in the consultation paper as the “green” route. Chris provided Jim with invaluable help from his expertise in the field of geology in civil engineering in compiling his response to the March consultation, which was submitted on 25th May. On 14th July Jim received a communication from Jacobs, the lead stakeholder consultants for Transport Scotland, which was broadly in line with the comments and recommendations in his response, and which said that Jacobs were looking forward to Jim’s ongoing feedback about the project.

The following pages on the Transport Scotland website deal with the consultation:

The consultation process is closed at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if any further public consultations take place. If they do, individual members of the society may wish to respond.

Jim’s response to the consultation can be found on this website. This contains a very informative  account of the geology of the area and describes the potential problems presented by some of the options in the consultation document. Jim has also prepared a very interesting account of the background to his involvement in the consultation, which can also be found on the website.