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Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge

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Road Hog:
Sounds like a story from a British spoof.

LONDON - A controversial four-lane highway will be constructed under Stonehenge, planners announced Thursday in an effort to solve a decades-old traffic problem at the ancient British monument.

A new 1.8 mile tunnel would remove the sight and sound of traffic for visitors to the prehistoric landmark, England's Department for Transport said.

The World Heritage Site is among Britain's top tourist attractions and pulls in in more than 1.3 million visitor annually.

However, it sits yards from the busy A303 – a historic road linking London with southwest England that has grown increasingly traffic-choked. The stretch of highway nearest Stonehenge is single-lane, creating a notorious bottleneck and prompting many drivers to slow down to get a look.

Plans for a tunnel at the Wiltshire site were first made almost 30 years ago but have been repeatedly shelved amid concerns about the environmental impact.

Campaign group Stonehenge Alliance says the latest scheme, which would carry two lanes in each direction, would do "irreparable damage to the landscape" and it wants a much longer tunnel that would minimize the road's impact.

Supporters of the government plan include heritage charity, National Trust. Helen Ghosh, director general, said in a statement: "I know there will be some sadness that people will no longer be able to see the stones from the road, but visitors will once again be able to hear the sounds of skylarks singing rather than the constant noise of traffic."

She added: "After many false starts and challenges, this does for the first time feel like a real opportunity to tackle the blight of the road that dominates the landscape of Stonehenge."

The Department for Transport said the Stonehenge tunnel was part of a $2.45 billion program of investment in the region and would cut traffic congestion. A public consultation on the scheme will run until March 5.

I'm guessing they don't want some maniac to knock down the rocks, like Chevy Chase did in National Lampoon's European Vacation! :rofl:

But seriously, there has to be a better way...

english si:

--- Quote ---Sounds like a story from a British spoof.
--- End quote ---
What's funnier is that the last 'fix' closed the 5000-year old road junction that predates the stones, and was the key reason why the stones were there. This one, of course, removes the original road in the area 'to protect the ancient landscape'!

A big problem with the tunnel is that the stones are probably the least interesting thing there archaeologically and so the tunnel needs to be bored deep under the whole area to not create issues with the Neolithic World Heritage Site or be more damaging that on-line 4-laning.

Sadly the sensible alternative of going south of the whole area, while getting closer to the nearby city, would be even more expensive than that, requiring more engineering as it goes via a more hilly (and far more scenic area than the Plain), and has the potential to upset lots of other historic sites - Roman, Medieval and Pre-historic. Going north would create issues with a military training facility that is also a nature reserve so that is also a non-starter.
Post Merge: January 15, 2017, 12:45:07 AM//
This video by historian Tom Holland makes a good case as to why the plans are bad.

Though the whole 'sunset on the winter solstice' is a very new (less than ten years - based on pig bones hinting at winter usage, and some other monuments in the British isles that line up with sunrise on the solstice - which Stonehenge doesn't actually line up with, so they plucked something similar that vaguely fitted) concept with the 'traditional' meeting of neo-Pagans and hippies being sunrise on the summer solstice, looking the other way: and that too seems to be a post-Enlightenment romanticism rather than what probably did there, and the data is inconclusive on astronomical alignments (plus the Victorians moved the stones).

But road tunnel portals are a massive blot, with tons of light pollution - which was a key objection to tunnelling at Tywford Down, and on a key axis of alleged importance, is doubly problematic.

One would think that a wider alignment further from Stonehenge is a better solution than an expensive tunnel.

I've been on that road before on my way back to Heathrow from Glastonbury. It was real nice to just pull off the road to see Stonehenge on our way to the airport. We didn't have a lot of time set aside for another excursion on that weekend trip to Glastonbury, and we might not even have realized that we were so close to Stonehenge if it was a tunnel. It is true that road noise is noticeable there, because that highway carries a lot of traffic including some lorries. But on a typical  day that was not as freezing cold as when we were there, the rather large parking lot is always filled with tour buses and other cars so there will always be a lot of traffic close by with or without a tunnel.

Roads in the U.K. do suffer from congestion, even many of the single carriageway A roads, but that is not surprising for a largely car oriented culture of fifty million people living in area the size of Oregon.

english si:
The UK is 65 million people and not-quite-Oregon-sized. England, which is 55 million people, is Alabama-sized.

The current road wouldn't be as bad if you didn't have people slowing down to get a better look at the stones as they pass - the various improvements of recent years to reduce every possible conflict between the roundabouts either side (most importantly pulling over) have done a lot to make it little more than a mundane bottleneck on the eastern approach*, but fine when on it. There's as-busy and as-important (trunk), single carriageway A roads that aren't even seen as problems by Highways England (A31 north of Poole/Bournemouth, A46 between the A44 junctions, A5 north of Oswestry), let alone having 9-figures thrown at it. Variable speed limits, a slow/vunerable traffic ban, and an overtaking ban would go a long way and cost less than 1% of the cost of the current plan. Yes, English Heritage and the National Trust will moan about continued traffic noise, but they only seem to care about the bits of the World Heritage Site that they own - for them its about their business and making their property more valuable, rather than preserving Heritage for the Nation as they will happily destroy some globally recognised Heritage if its not theirs.

*of the sort which exists at lots of places without the relevant authorities caring about it.


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