The A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) scheme by Highways England has been formally approved by the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.

The controversial $AU3.5 billion highway upgrade project is a transformational and sensitive plan to tackle congestion and traffic bottlenecks on the A303 route, which is used by millions of people to travel between the south-east and south-west of England. The route, which was designed for half the traffic flows it sees today, is a daily struggle for many, according to Highways England. 

The tunnel road under the Stonehenge will avoid important archaeological sites, and will not block the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice.

Highways England project director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme Derek Parody explains that the project aims to conserve and enhance the World Heritage Site and is being achieved through close collaboration with heritage groups, including English Heritage, National Trust, Historic England and the independent A303 Scientific Committee.

“The scheme will not only sustain the Outstanding Universal Value of the WHS, it will also have a beneficial effect, and extensive archaeological studies and assessments have been undertaken to provide evidence of the benefits that the scheme will deliver for the World Heritage Site,” he added.

 Fieldwork is expected to begin in late spring next year, with the main five-year construction phase to start by 2023.

Images: Highways England