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  • Writer's pictureRhonan Colquhoun

Feature Writing Ass 2: Rest and Be Solved?

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

My second assessment for Feature Writing was to be aimed at a local newspaper and should focus on a community issue, which included an interview. I decided to produce an article on the Rest and Be Thankful - a road near where I live which has made national headlines for the amount of disruption it's caused.

I passed this assessment with flying colours and received fantastic feedback from my lecturer.

Rest and Be Solved?

The troubled A83, also known as the Rest and Be Thankful, has been a headache for commuters for a number of years but most recently in the past few months over lockdown.

The road, which is 803ft above sea level, divides Glen Kinglas from Glen Croe. It’s been named as one of Scotland’s most scenic routes but it’s got a major flaw that even its beauty cannot hide.

The road is prone to closures with landslips a normality when there is a lot of heavy rain. In the past, as much as 400 tonnes has come down off the hills at the one time with nine major road closures since 2007.

When landslips occur, road users must use the Old Military Road (OMR), a single track road which runs parallel to the A83 through Glen Croe.

Aerial footage of the A83 (left). Picture courtesy of Fly Over Scotland

PJ Shields, a security guard, lives in Dunoon and uses the route eight times a week travelling to and from his place of work. He said: “Depending on the weather, on a nice day, give or take the deer and sheep, its fine. It’s the weather that causes the most havoc.”

When the road closes, added pressure is put on Dunoon’s only car ferry, Western Ferries, but it comes at a price for commuters. PJ’s latest experience of the last landslip saw him missing his work completely because the weather also meant that the boats were off as well. When the weather improved the next day, PJ relied on the boats.

He said: “This meant we couldn’t travel by road so the boats were an added expense and added time to my journey.”

“Ultimately, they need to re-route it. It’s a lifeline into Argyll and Bute and it’s the amount of money the local area is losing because of it.”

Following two major landslips in August and in September, more extensive work was carried out in order to mitigate disruption with the construction of a debris fence, a catch pit and a roadside barrier.

In recent years, Transport Scotland has spent £80 million on landslip prevention schemes in which none has improved the situation on the road.

Now, after years of campaigning, the Scottish Government is finally taking the issue more seriously and are now debating a more permanent solution.

They have proposed 11 options for a new route has been published as part of Transport Scotland’s ‘Access to Argyll and Bute (A83) project’. They range from a relatively simple fix to close to the current Glen Croe route, to alignments involving a fixed link – a tunnel or a bridge – from Inverclyde to Dunoon, to a major project involving a series of bridges.

Transport secretary Michael Matherson said: “I realise people are looking for a long-term solution to dealing with landslips at the site and we are committed to delivering one.”

In the past promises by the Scottish Government have been made but will they act upon their latest promise to find a solution to the Rest and Be Thankful? PJ will “believe it when he sees it.”

Video courtesy of Fly Over Scotland

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