Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced £1.4bn plans for a seven-mile A303 dualling scheme, including a 1.8 mile tunnel at Stonehenge.
Announcing a consultation on the plans, the Department for Transport said the scheme would develop the A303 corridor into a ‘high quality, high performing route’ linking the M3 in the South-East and the M5 in the South-West.
The single carriageway A303 passing Stonehenge
Ministers said a consultation on two further upgrade proposals - between Sparkford and Ilchester and between Taunton and Southfields – would follow ‘in due course’.
Mr Grayling said: ‘This major investment in the south-west will transform the A303 and benefit those locally by cutting congestion and improving journey times. It will also boost the economy, linking people with jobs and businesses with customers - driving forward our agenda to build a country that works for everyone and not just the privileged few.'
The single carriageway section of the A303 currently runs alongside the historic Stonehenge and the DfT's proposed option is to construct a 1.8 mile dual carriageway tunnel, ‘to improve journey times, remove the sight and sound of traffic and enhance the world heritage site’.
The Highways England website gives the cost of the whole Stonehenge scheme as £1.4bn.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: ‘Our plans for the A303 recognise the national importance of the route and these improvements will bring real benefit to the region and local communities.’
A consultation on the options for the Stonehenge scheme will run until 5 March, with a preferred route to be announced later this year. Highways England said that it would like to start on site in 2020.
The current Highways England Road Investment Strategy commits to upgrading all single carriageway sections of the A303 between the M3 and M5 to dual carriageway standard, starting with these three schemes.