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Stonehenge tunnel route published

Words: Laura Edgar
Stonehenge / iStock-172382850

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has published modified plans to upgrade the A303, which includes a tunnel under Stonehenge.

The £1.6 billion A303 upgrade forms part of the South West expressway, which will link the M3 in the South East with the M5 in the South West.

The upgrade aims to improve journey times and support economic growth and tourism in an area where, said the government, congestion and slow journeys “have long had a negative impact on the region’s economy”.

The tunnel, which is expected to remove the “traffic blight” on local communities, will reconnect the two halves of the 6,500-acre UNESCO World Heritage site. The road currently splits the site, but the tunnel should remove the sight and sound of traffic from the area.

The upgrade was initially announced in 2014 as part of then Prime Minister’s David Cameron’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy.

Following public consultation earlier this year, Highways England modified the plans. Changes include moving the position of one of the entrances to the tunnel to avoid a conflict with the solstice alignment.

The 1.8 mile-long tunnel will bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke. The preferred route also includes eight miles of dual carriageway, and junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of Stonehenge.

Grayling said: “Quicker journey times, reduced congestion and cleaner air will benefit people locally and unlock growth in the tourism industry.

“The scheme will also support 120,000 extra jobs and 100,000 new homes across the region, helping us build a country that works for everyone.”

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive at Highways England, said: “Highways England is committed to delivering a high-quality, modern road on this vital route between the South West and the rest of the country.

“The A303 and the World Heritage site have suffered from congestion for many years. This scheme will enhance, protect and restore tranquillity to one of the UK’s most iconic landscapes.

“We have listened to feedback from consultation and believe this preferred route will help improve traffic flow, reduce rat-running on the surrounding roads, bringing improvements to local communities and benefits to the South West economy.”

Further information can be found on the Highways England website.

Image credit | iStock