Highways England’s plans to upgrade the A303 at the notorious Stonehenge bottleneck have been given the go-ahead.
The upgraded road, which includes a two-mile tunnel underneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, will largely follow the existing A303 route, but a further 50 metres away from the Stonehenge monument.
Care has been
taken to avoid important archaeological sites to ensure there is no intrusion
on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice.
The scheme will tackle congestion on
the single carriageway section of the A303 route, helping to improve journey
times and reliability between the M3 and M5.
formal go ahead from Transport Secretary Grant
Shapps, there is now a six-week period in which the decision may be
challenged in the High Court.
In the meantime,
Highways England has been progressing the procurement process for the main
works contract and is participating in dialogue with three bidders before they
submit their final tenders. The preferred bidder is expected to be announced in
Fieldwork is due
to start in late spring next year, with the main five-year construction phase
expected to start by 2023.
Wayman, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said, “We’re delighted
that, after many years of planning and lobbying by our dedicated officers and
members, consent has been granted for the A303 Stonehenge project.
“It represents a
significant investment in Wiltshire that will boost the South-West economy,
unlocking jobs and investment throughout the entire region. We now can look
forward to construction beginning, and to unlocking all the benefits the scheme
will bring to Wiltshire and the South West.”
Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan said, “The A303 Stonehenge tunnel project is
part of the biggest investment in our road network for a generation and we
welcome the Secretary of State’s decision. This transformational scheme will
return the Stonehenge landscape towards its original setting and will improve
journey times for everyone who travels to and from the South West.”
Federation of Small Businesses Transport Chair, added, “This is very welcome
news. Upgrading the single carriageway sections of the A303 is key to
supporting the South-West economy, particularly as the only alternative route
via the M4 and M5 into the region is already heavily used. Investment in
improving key links on the country’s A roads is a positive and vital way to
support our local regional economies.”
The £1.7 billion
A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down upgrade includes:
miles of free-flowing, high-quality dual carriageway
tunnel at least two miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely
following the existing A303 route, but a further 50 metres away from the
Stonehenge monument, avoiding important archaeological sites, and avoiding
intrusion on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter
- a new
bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke
with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site