Stonehenge design consultancy awarded

27 January 2016

GREAT BRITAIN – An Arup Atkins JV has been appointed as the design consultant for the Stonehenge Tunnel project. The project is part of the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Improvement Scheme, which also includes a bypass of nearby village Winterbourne Stoke.

The team will develop options to take through public consultation and up to a preferred alignment announcement. The package of works is worth an expected GBP 17.5M.

The A303 trunk road links London with the South West and is a key route for long distance commercial and holiday traffic. The scheme will unlock a pinch-point that has restricted the economy of the South West while enhancing the world heritage site at Stonehenge. This scheme is an integral part for creating a A303 'expressway' to the South West region.

Subject to statutory procedures, the proposed scheme is on target for construction work to start by April 2020.

Earlier pushes for a tunnel were defeated in 1996, and again in 2007 due to cost overruns. The second attempt also saw the National Trust state its preference for a 4km deep tunnel over the original 2km cut and cover vision. In July 2005, Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman announced a review of the options following a cost rise from GBP 284M (USD 505M) when the draft orders were published in 2003 to some GBP 470M (USD 836M). The increase was attributed to very large quantities of weak phosphatic chalk, and a high water table.

The Highways Agency claimed groundwater levels could rise to the surface at times of heavy rainfall where the proposed tunnel alignment passes below a shallow valley to the south of Stonehenge. These factors were felt to complicate the tunnelling process and extend the overall construction programme.