Wiltshire

Former Stonehenge A303 road proposal 'still popular locally'

Stonehenge
Image caption A former tunnel proposal to ease congestion past Stonehenge was thrown out in 2007 due to spiralling costs

A decades-old proposal for a road route past Stonehenge is still the most popular locally, a councillor has said in a letter to Highways England.

A re-routing of the A303 between the Countess and Long Barrow roundabouts was suggested before a 2004 public enquiry, according to Ian West.

He said he believed "more than 90% of local residents" would choose this over the government's £2bn tunnel option.

Highways England said it was committed to considering suggested alternatives.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Ian West said a new dual carriageway between the Countess and Long Barrow roundabouts was favoured locally

Congestion on the A303

£1.4bn

Proposed cost of Stonehenge tunnel

  • 1.8 miles is the length of the proposed tunnel (2.9km)

  • 9.6 sq m around Stonehenge is a World Heritage site (25 sq km)

  • 33% of the route is single carriageway

  • 84 years since the A-road opened

PA

In it, the Liberal Democrat county councillor for Till and Wylye Valley said he wanted to present an alternative to the tunnel "for serious consideration".

'Local support'

The idea is for a surface-laid dual carriageway to the south of the single carriageway currently in use.

"Over the last 23 years or so that I have represented this area on the council, this scheme has been suggested by many residents to me and I believe it has a great deal of local support and merit," he wrote.

Mr West also represents Wiltshire County Council on the Stonehenge World Heritage Site Steering Group.

Among the benefits he lists are that it is the cheapest option, has the shortest completion time and is not visible from Stonehenge.

But he did admit there could be a loss of archaeology with this route cutting across the World Heritage Site.

Chairman of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, Andy Rhind-Tutt, is opposed to this road plan and said: "Any further damage to arguably the most significant prehistoric landscape in the world must be prevented at all costs."

He would rather see a major bypass of nearby Salisbury and removing the A303 altogether from the World Heritage Site.

Highways England said it was aiming to launch a public consultation early next year.

"As we develop our proposals in compliance with the statutory processes, we will consult a variety of stakeholders, including local residents, businesses, road users and interested parties," a spokeswoman said.

In January the government awarded a £17.5m design contract for a 1.8-mile (2.9km) road tunnel near the ancient stones to ease congestion on the A303.

A similar tunnel scheme for the route, which links London and the South West, was dropped in 2007 because of the spiralling cost.

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