Highways England, the government-owned company responsible for England's motorways and major A roads, is set to showcase its updated plans for £1.6bn road tunnel project near Stonehenge, England to international heritage experts.
The government agency will brief the delegation from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) about the minimising the impact on the World Heritage Site.
The heritage experts, who are on a three-day fact-finding mission, will see how the designs of the proposed 1.9-mile long road tunnel will bring together the World Heritage Site landscape, which is currently split by the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down.
Highways England project director Derek Parody said: “As well as removing the traffic bottleneck at Stonehenge and addressing the rat-running issue through villages, our proposed scheme will remove the sight and sound of traffic from the iconic monument and reduce intrusion in the wider world heritage site.”
Since the tunnel route plan was announced in September, the agency has continued to work with heritage groups to ensure a new route is constructed sensitively to the World Heritage Site.
Parody added: “These groups have been key, along with environmental, archaeological and geophysical surveys, to our building our knowledge and understanding of this unique landscape and helped us develop the design of our preferred route.”
Highways England said that the route was carefully chosen to avoid monuments and barrow groups. A public consultation is being held until 6 April and outlines for the first time initial designs for the tunnel.
The project forms part of a £15bn road investment programme, under which the UK government is committed to upgrade all remaining single carriageway sections of the A303/A358 between the M3 and M5 to dual carriageway standard.
Work will start with three schemes: the A303 at Stonehenge, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester; and the A358 between the M5 Taunton and the Southfields Roundabout on the A303.