Completion of the UK’s longest road tunnel under land moved a step closer this week as its north and south bores broke through simultaneously beneath the Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey.
The £371M, 1.8km twin-bore Hindhead tunnel is designed to reduce traffic congestion on the A3 between Portsmouth and London.
At present, 30,000 vehicles per day use the two-lane road running through the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The project is due for completion in the summer of 2011. The tunnel will reduce noise and emissions, improving the habitat for wildlife and rare and protected species.
Transport minister Paul Clark said the breakthrough was “a major step forward for this important Highways Agency scheme. It will bring faster and safer journeys on the only trunk road between Portsmouth and London – as well as freeing the centre of Hindhead from the daily gridlock that blights the area”.
Underpasses will allow horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians to cross the A3 in safety. A 9km cycle route will also be created. Client is the Highways Agency, consultant is Mott MacDonald and contractor is Balfour Beatty.