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Funding gives Hindhead tunnel 2008 start date

CONSTRUCTION OF the £145M Hindhead tunnel on the A3 in Surrey could start in 2008, following the scheme’s announcement as the south east’s top priority last week.

The South East England Regional Transport Board (RTB) has committed funds to the A3 scheme for a 2008 start after concluding that there was no other funding option.

It has discounted using private finance for the scheme after the Department for Transport ruled that it would have to account for the whole cost of the scheme as soon as work was completed.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling established the RTB concept in December 2004 to give regions more say in transport decisions.

The South East RTB has an annual budget of £141M in 2007/08 rising to £150M in 2010/11.

As a result of the South East RTB’s commitment to Hindhead several other schemes will be deferred by a year.

These include £64M of improvements to the A253 and A256 in east Kent, a £64M dualling of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury and a £40M widening of the A23 between Handcross and Warninglid.

Plans for a £12M rapid transit system in Brighton will be put back three years.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling will rule on the plans in the spring.

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