The chair of a Loch Lomond community group has slammed the “unimaginative” decision to construct an “ugly” tunnel at the Rest and Be Thankful.

John Urquhart, of the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, has voiced his concerns with Transport Scotland’s plans to make a “concrete box with windows” along the Old Military Road section of the A83.

The tunnel is being built to address issues with landslides, but members of the public have voiced their unhappiness with the decision, with many deeming the planned structure unsightly.

John said: “They have opted to follow the existing road line which is to be encased in a concrete avalanche shelter, an ugly and (for the unfortunate travellers), very noisy half mile long concrete box with windows.

“The obvious solution, a graceful viaduct, would allow the 100,000 tonnes of glacial debris still poised high above to flow unhindered, harmlessly forming natural alluvial fans at the foot of the slope.

“How they can say the shelter idea is the best solution escapes me.

“It is developing all the hallmarks of yet another Transport Scotland fiasco.

“The views from the viaduct of the mountains would be stupendous and it would quickly achieve iconic status as one of Scotland’s great travel experiences.

“The Rest and be Thankful is one of our finest mountain passes. It is The National Park’s premier Gateway to Argyll and it deserves much better.”

In response to John’s comments, Transport Scotland said that the solution of building a concrete tunnel was made after considering a wide range of criteria and five potential options – including a viaduct.

The organisation also offered assurances that a public consultation was in the works and encouraged the public to visit public exhibitions open this week in Arrochar and Lochgilpead and the online exhibition to let the organisation know their opinions.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has been working tirelessly to find a long-term solution to the landslip risks at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful.

“Following a thorough assessment of five route options, including one consisting of a 1.8km long viaduct, the preferred debris flow shelter route option performed most favourably across a broad range of environmental criteria.

“It also has the greatest potential to be delivered quickly and presents the greatest opportunity to encourage sustainable travel.

“We want to hear from the public on our proposals and both the ongoing online exhibition and the public exhibitions which have been held this week in Arrochar and Lochgilpead are their opportunity to tell us what they think.

“All comments received will be considered as the design work is taken forward at pace to further develop our proposals.

“These developments underline the Scottish Government’s commitment to work with key stakeholders and local communities and ensure that Argyll and Bute remains open for business.”

Work on the project will begin later this year as Transport Scotland will work to realign the southern end of the road which they hope will reduce the chance it will have to close if the area floods.

To see the virtual exhibition, visit: