Stonehenge Tunnel to Proceed, Despite Stony Response

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January 15, 2017

The United Kingdom Government has signed off on a plan to make it easier for tourists to get to Stonehenge.

The iconic thousands-of-years-old set of stone circles in Wiltshire gets more than 1.3 million visitors a year. Most of those visitors arrive by car and find it not that easy or quick to get anywhere near the World Heritage Site.

The Government's $2.4 billion construction plan, set to begin in 2020 and take four years, includes widening of the nearby highway, the A303, and also constructing a two-mile tunnel underneath the site.

English Heritage and UNESCO have approved the plan, but some British archaeologists worry that the construction will undermine (possibly literally) the monument and possibly prevent further discoveries like the 2014 identification of a stone circle network.

Also on record as opposing the tunnel construction are local Druids, who say that the tunnel's construction will produce light that will interfere with the view of sunset on the winter solstice. That day, December 21, annually draws thousands of people to Stonehenge to celebrate the shortest day of the year.

As the roadways work now, motorists can do a "drive-by," seeing the stones from the road while travelling down the motorway, without having to exit; the 1.8-mile tunnel will remove that possibility. National Trust officials, however, said that visitors to the stone circle would appreciate the absence of traffic noise.

The idea of a tunnel near Stonehenge is not a new one. As early as 1995, the U.K. Government went well down the track of approving a tunnel. As well, a 2013 upgrade included a very modern-looking visitors center.

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