TWO WAYS to save Stonehenge from traffic were unveiled by the Government yesterday, writes Nicholas Schoon. The Department of Transport is proposing moving the congested A303 road, which runs 200 yards from the site, a mile south, or following the existing route and digging a cut-and-cover tunnel.
English Heritage, which is responsible for the monument's conservation, says that many people see the henge's present setting on what is effectively a traffic island as 'a national disgrace'. Yesterday it expressed a strong preference for rerouteing the A303.
Kenneth Carlisle, the Minister for Roads, said the two options had been chosen to minimise damage to the many archaelogical sites around Stonehenge, although both will have some impact. Construction will not begin for several years, preceded, probably, by a public inquiry.
Creating a cut-and-cover tunnel - digging a cutting, then roofing it - and widening the existing route would cost about pounds 32m. Rerouteing the A303 south would add almost a mile to the distance but cost only pounds 10.6m. The main disadvantage with rerouteing is that it brings the road into an undisturbed landscape south of Normanton Down.
English Heritage also wants to close and grass over the A344 road which runs beside the stones and shut the adjacent 1960s visitor centre. It plans a new visitor centre and car park three-quarters of a mile north of the henge.
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