Van leasing drivers will now benefit from reduced driving times thanks to the £371 million Hindhead tunnel on the A3 in Portsmouth, which was opened by transport minister Philip Hammond yesterday (July 27th).
While the southbound dual carriageway below the Devil’s Punchbowl is now accessible, the northbound road north of Liphook will be opened on Friday after morning rush hour, the News reports.
Paul Arnold, leader of the five-year project, described the event as a “marvellous day”, saying that around 36,000 vehicles each day will make use of the new highway, cutting motorists’ journeys down by an average half an hour at peak times.
Mr Hammond made further comments, saying that it is thought the tunnel and new four-mile stretch of road will help avoid more than 2,000 accidents over the next six decades.
“The high traffic flows resulted in unreliable journey times and a poor accident record,” he remarked.
Hindhead is now the longest road tunnel below ground in the UK, comprising two individual tubes – one heading south and the other north. The speed limit is set at 70mph and enforced thanks to speed cameras situated at both ends.
Work is now due to start on the demolition of the old A3 around the Punchbowl, described by Mr Hammond as one of the major black spots in the south. It will eventually become part of the heathland once more in a couple of years’ time.
Construction of the Hindhead tunnel began back in January 2007, with the main tunnelling works commencing in February 2008 and the section near Hazel Grove opening in August last year. The project has come in on time and on budget, with the Highways Agency expecting the closure of the old A3 to bring in considerable benefits to the environment in what is an internationally prized region.
Posted by Matthew Painter
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