PHOTO: Stonehenge may finally get some traffic relief. (Photo via Flickr/Qalinx
Stonehenge—that stone formation obviously created by an improv comedy troupe of ancient aliens—is missing just one thing: a massive tunnel.
BBC.com reports government officials now have a finalized plan for a double-carriageway tunnel that would squire motorists past the Stonehenge location, alleviating some of the congestion that has continued to build on the current highway.
The plan would add a tunnel under the area that would range 1.8 miles. Opponents of the proposal suggest that the tunnel would have to be far longer, 2.7 miles, to ensure a modicum of preservation for what continues to be one of the world’s most renowned landmarks.
Despite the many headlines, a tunnel wouldn’t go directly under the outcrop of remarkably situated stones.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is eager to see the A303 plan move forward, “cutting congestion and improving journey times.”
But until work begins on such a massive undertaking, the BBC reports a public consultation process will run until March 5. If passed, the plan would cost about £2 billion and will invariably attract a great deal of opposition.
The Stonehenge Alliance had a measured response back in 2015 to the prospect of a tunnel: “The Alliance does not advocate new road building at Stonehenge, but accepts the need to improve the tranquility and appearance of the World Heritage Site and its setting. If the government insists on widening the A303 by means of a tunnel, it must be sufficiently long to avoid any further damage to [Stonehenge] and its setting.”
The BBC does, however, note both UNESCO and the International Council on Monuments have remarked on the proposal’s benefit in moving a sizable amount of traffic from the current highway to a widened tunnel.
Stonehenge and its area remain a serene setting despite its popularity as a tourist destination.
We hope any plan can maintain its peaceful setting while also taking into account the ongoing excavation that takes place in the region.