A $2.2B Tunnel Near Stonehenge Is Being Built

The tunnel is being built close to the prehistoric monument and is supposed to add just two lanes of traffic to solve miles-long jams.

byChris Rosales|
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Stonehenge is one of the most iconic prehistoric monuments in the world. With that comes problems. Problems for the locals, but most crucially a huge traffic problem. With the structure protected by law in 1882, it has been an impossible issue to solve. Now, the British government is moving forward with a plan to build a $2.2 billion tunnel right next to Stonehenge, potentially damaging it irreversibly.

The reasoning behind building a tunnel danger-close to Stonehenge is to add traffic capacity while moving that traffic out of sight of the monument, maintaining the current A303 that services Stonehenge in its current two-lane form. Because the A303 is a major thoroughfare that connects the southwest of England to London, rerouting traffic around Stonehenge was apparently not an option or was too costly, and the tunnel will make the A303 a continuous four lanes wide instead of the two lanes it currently has next to Stonehenge.

Highways England

According to the BBC, there was and still is major opposition to the project. The British government’s Planning Inspectorate stated that the tunnel would cause “permanent, irreversible harm” to the ancient monument. The site is over 5,000 years old and protected by law, making the decision to build even more unusual. It is said that traffic jams can span “dozens” of miles, causing huge lines of congestion.

The original plan for the tunnel was halted through a challenge in the British High Court from the Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site alliance. With the backing of the Wiltshire council and the Department for Transport, the plan has been approved to go ahead with a new proposal. Current Transport Secretary Mark Harper even admitted that “there will be harm as a result of the development to cultural heritage and the historic environment.” 

Despite the admission from Secretary Harper that there will be damage, the plan is a go. However, this will surely not be the last challenge the tunnel faces.

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