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Author Topic: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge  (Read 2684 times)

Road Hog

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Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« on: January 12, 2017, 07:03:08 PM »

Sounds like a story from a British spoof.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/stonehenge-road-tunnel-planned-ease-traffic-ancient-england-monument-n706026

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 ó 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.
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Henry

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2017, 10:02:33 AM »

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...
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english si

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2017, 11:34:32 AM »

Quote
Sounds like a story from a British spoof.
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.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 12:45:08 AM by Alps »
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stwoodbury

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2017, 06:14:23 AM »

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.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 06:30:07 AM by stwoodbury »
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english si

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2017, 08:28:36 AM »

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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english si

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2017, 04:26:57 PM »

Baldrick doesn't think it's a cunning plan

Here's an Oxford Don (Professor) going further than I did about the Heritage orginisations only protecting their patches of the WHS: What does it mean that three of the organisations charged with the protection of Stonehengeís landscape are not just supporting this roadscheme, but are endorsing the fallacy that building a new dual carriageway within a World Heritage Site could ever be in the interests of cultural heritage?

TV Historian Dan Snow makes a point that I have made elsewhere that merely moving the A303 bottleneck is pointless at the moment:
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compdude787

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2017, 05:34:24 PM »

I'm guessing it's not possible to widen the existing road to four lanes?

Comstock

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2017, 12:13:55 PM »

I'm guessing it's not possibrle to widen the existing road to four lanes?

One issue is the general ambience around the stoned.  This is an ancient monument so you really don't want an S4 highway thundering past.

But this is one of the longest running sagas in British roads history.I'm not holding my breath for this tunnel.
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DJStephens

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2018, 02:32:48 PM »

Tony Robins (in the first video) is the narrator/host of the five part "Catastrophe" series on world geological and cataclysm theory.   Good stuff. 
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english si

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2018, 07:17:59 AM »

One issue is the general ambience around the stoned.  This is an ancient monument so you really don't want an S4 highway thundering past.
A bigger issue is the archaeology around the stones. About the only benefit for archaeology of building the tunnel is that it allows archaeological work to be done along the road that was the lifeblood of the site. Shame the tunnel destroys two of the key neolithic archaeology sites globally...

But the main issue is that English Heritage don't want you getting a cheeky peek at the stones without going and paying serious money at their visitors centre. Though a sensible bypass can do that. And perhaps said bypass can give a view of the 'world-renowned' Salisbury Cathedral spire rising out of the city rather than the main road in the area being some way away from the city that is, by far, the main traffic generator in the area.
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X99

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2019, 08:30:35 PM »

I see nothing wrong with a tunnel under Stonehenge, as long as it doesn't pass directly under the stones. That way, worst case scenario being the tunnel collapsing, the monument would remain unscathed.
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Beltway

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2019, 11:20:06 PM »

Sounds like the plan in the 1970s to build a highway tunnel under the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
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SteveG1988

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2019, 12:07:03 AM »

Will it be built to the right scale?
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Verlanka

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2019, 08:44:26 AM »

Sounds like the plan in the 1970s to build a highway tunnel under the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A complete disaster if you ask me.
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Alps

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2019, 11:51:14 PM »

Sounds like the plan in the 1970s to build a highway tunnel under the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A complete disaster if you ask me.
Why? Depends on the technology used, but a deep enough tunnel wouldn't unseat the memorial.

kphoger

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2019, 02:02:03 PM »

Besides, if the stones take a tumble, then maybe everyone will realize they were just a bunch of stacked-up rocks and get over it.   :sombrero:
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Road Hog

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2019, 10:01:28 PM »

Just about every Stonehenge doc Iíve seen has had traffic zooming past on the A road in background, so I empathize.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2019, 10:08:39 PM »

Besides, if the stones take a tumble, then maybe everyone will realize they were just a bunch of stacked-up rocks and get over it.   :sombrero:

They occasionally unstack the stones already so accidental toppling isnít a huge deal.

More interesting might be that a tunnel might unearth archaeological items.
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vdeane

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2019, 04:20:26 PM »

More interesting might be that a tunnel might unearth archaeological items.
Like the Pandorica!
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english si

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Re: Tunnel to be built under Stonehenge
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2019, 04:28:21 AM »

More interesting might be that a tunnel might unearth archaeological items.
Undoubtedly - the western portal is where the archeology is meant to be most dense - other than the bit where they will put a viaduct!

Of course that means a massive archeological dig and the tunnel bored with those little trowels and brushes, and will take an age and cost a lot...

The henge itself, kphoger is correct, is just some stones. They are the money maker, though, so the main aim of English Heritage is to stop people seeing them for free and to improve their (paying really rather a lot) customers experience, and sod the far more archeologically important landscape around.

UNESCO, on the other hand, have no financial stakes and have said that the destruction of the prehistoric landscape by only tunnelling past the stones will remove it from the list of World Heritage Sites and they will be annoyed. Now the UK takes World Heritage Sites seriously - the Lake District and Godrell Bank really pushed for the status in recent years (they have it) and there's a lot of other places pushing for it. Any run by English Heritage or the National Trust would be out the running for those bodies part in actively failing to preserve what's possibly the UK's premier cultural WHS. And perhaps even existing ones they manage would be put in the 'at risk' list just to express how angry UNESCO is at their handling of the Stonehenge tunnel.

Avoiding the area to north or south seems a better way to go. Cheaper too!
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