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Stonehenge tunnel plan finally laid to rest

Plans to build a £540M tunnel beneath the stones of Stonehenge have finally been killed off in place of a cheaper scheme which involves shutting the junction between the A344 and A303.

The Highways Agency has this week confirmed that it has scrapped the tunnel plans in place of £159M of modest junction improvements on the single carriageway A303.

A public inquiry backed a 2.1km long bored tunnel beneath Stonehenge more than five years ago and contractor Balfour Beatty was ready to begin construction.

Shelved, then scrapped

But the scheme was shelved on cost grounds in 2005 after the discovery of unforeseen ground conditions threatened to lead to increase costs (NCE 28 July 2005).

Of the five options presented at the 2004 public inquiry, four involved a tunnel. The closure of the A344 junction was the cheapest, but also the least effective at cutting congestion.

In a consultation document aimed at reviving the scheme in 2006, the Highways Agency said this option offered “minor beneficial effects” with Stonehenge continuing to face “adverse effects from the proximity of the A303”.

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