Plans to put the A303 into a tunnel close to Stonehenge have been approved by the Department for Transport as part of the South West expressway scheme.
The route for the Stonehenge project was published today by transport secretary Chris Grayling and is part of a £1.6bn expressway scheme to link the M3 with the M5.
The 2.9km long Stonehenge tunnel is a key part of the £15bn Amesbury to Berwick Down section and will reconnect the two parts of the 2,600ha World Heritage site at Stonehenge.
“This government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future and this major investment in the south-west will provide a huge boost for the region,” said Grayling.
“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.”
The scheme was the subject of a public consultation and engagement in this process resulted in repositioning of one of the tunnel entrance to avoid it conflicting with the solstice alignment.
English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust have issued a joint statement to support the realigned route for the tunnel.
In their statement, the organisations said: “We believe the amended route can, if designed and located with the utmost care, deliver a lasting legacy for the World Heritage Site and restore peace and tranquillity to the Stonehenge landscape.
“The three heritage organisations are pleased that Highways England has improved the route of the road as it travels through the World Heritage Site, particularly in relation to the winter solstice alignment.
“We remain committed to working with and constructively challenging Highways England to deliver a final design that protects and enhances the World Heritage Site. We will examine the specific details of the tunnel and road design when they become available.”
Other upgrades planned for the expressway route include improvements to the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester and on the A358 between Taunton and Southfields.