Further progress is being seen with the UK’s A303 Stonehenge Tunnel bypass project. Highways England has announced that three consortia have been shortlisted for the project.
The final tenders are due for submission in six months, with the contract due to be awarded in 2021. Construction meanwhile is so far intended to commence later in 2021.
Building the 3.2km tunnel, including driving the bore using a TBM as well as fitting the necessary electrical and mechanical as well as the drainage mitigation systems will cost an estimated £1.25 billion. The whole project involves building a 13km stretch of dual carriageway as well as building the tunnel and new junctions with the A345 and A360 routes.
The project to build the tunnel has met with considerable resistance, both environmental and archaeological. Stonehenge, dating back around 4,000 years, is one of the UK’s most historic monuments and the area surrounding the monument is noted for its many archaeological sites of interest. The project’s critics have said that building the tunnel threatens other potential archaeological finds, as well as posing a threat to the local environment.
However, the current A303 has to be upgraded as it features only a single lane in either direction where it passes Stonehenge. The busy route is unable to cope with the current traffic volumes and suffers heavily from congestion, while there are also serious concerns over its safety.