Atkins/Arup awarded design contract for Stonehenge tunnel plan

Image caption The government announced its plans for a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) tunnel past Stonehenge in 2014

A design team has been appointed by the government to develop proposals for a tunnel on the A303 near Stonehenge.

Highways England announced Atkins/Arup will devise a preferred route to be taken to public consultation as part of the £15bn improvement project.

A bypass of Winterbourne Stoke also forms part of the plan for the heavily congested stretch of road between Amesbury and Berwick Down.

The A303 is a key route in the area and links London with the south west.

Andrew Alcorn of Highways England, said: "This award takes us another step closer to our commitment to deliver the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down improvement scheme.

"Now we have Atkins/Arup on board to help with developing options for the scheme and pre-construction planning, we will be able to take the next step towards making this scheme a reality."

The £17.5m design contract has been awarded under a government investment scheme aimed at delivering "large-scale improvements to England's strategic roads".

Following the preferred route announcement, Highways England will draw up a development consent order application, which will be examined in public by the Planning Inspectorate, before a final decision by the Transport Secretary.

Work on the proposed scheme is expected to start by April 2020.

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