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The northbound tunnel of the £371 million pound Hindhead tunnel project officially opened today (Friday 22nd July) at 11.25am.
The UK's longest trunk road tunnel, built to relieve congestion at one of the country's worst bottlenecks, officially opened on Wednesday July 27th 2011, with traffic being allowed through the southbound tunnel for the first time.
The 1.2 mile-long tunnel on the A3 at Hindhead is part of a four-mile, £370 million scheme which has been four years in construction.
The AA said the scheme not only relieves a community blighted for decades for being positioned on the congested London to Portsmouth trunk road, it also dramatically improves journey times on the route and will save 2,000 accidents over the long term.
Heart was at the opening of the tunnel to witness the first cars coming through at 11am on Wednesday:
AA president Edmund King said:
"This is how road building in the UK should be done - a win for the local community, a win for the natural environment and a win for drivers and freight going from London to Portsmouth.
"Compared to the mega sums needed for rail investment, comparatively low-cost road schemes can save a significant number of lives, relieve communities, eliminate congestion, improve journey times, protect the environment and assist the local and national economy."
He went on:
"A similar proposal for a 1.3-mile tunnel on the A303 at the World Heritage site of Stonehenge saw years of debate and argument.
"While the majority agreed the scheme would restore Stonehenge to its former remote glory, the tunnel scheme was rejected on cost grounds. In our view, that was very short sighted."
The AA said road tunnel schemes were unlikely to be repeated in the UK in the near future, despite proving a success in Europe.
Facts On Hindhead Tunnel
- At 1.14 miles the tunnel is the longest non-estuarial road tunnel in the UK.
- The tunnel was over 4 years in the making and cost £371 million
- 737,000 cubic metres of earth were excavated during the tunnel's construction
- Digging the tunnel took 290,875 man hours
- 289,460 cubic metres of concrete were used in the construction
- 1,399,034 man-hours were worked without an accident
- The tunnel contains 156 miles of cable
- The tunnel lights are twice as bright as the ones at the Old Trafford stadium
- The tunnel has 104 CCTV cameras
- The fire main tank can hold 38,000 litres of water
- A total of 4,322 people have worked on the project