A CLEAR call for the A303 to be put into a tunnel near Stonehenge was made by Salisbury MP John Glen at a special Westminster debate.
The debate in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday was requested by Mr Glen.
In his speech, he called on the Government to put the road through a 2.8k tunnel near Stonehenge as the cost was likely to be half what was predicted when the idea to solve the long-running traffic problems in the area was discussed in the 1990s.
He said that Britain now has more expertise and experience at tunnelling and added that his constituents had to put up with constant congestion, which had only increased in villages such as Shrewton since the A344 was closed last year and the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre built.
He called on the Government to include the section running past the ancient monument in its list of improvements planned for the 92-mile A303 and, if necessary, to look for European funding. He said: “Let’s get on with the job. Let’s have no more hand-wringing and procrastination.”
In a debate in which he was joined by other MPs from south west constituencies, he urged the Government to go ahead with plans for a Winterbourne Stoke by-pass and to consider noise-reduction surfacing for the A303 section near Andover.
Cut-price solutions such as a flyover at Countess Roundabout or an underpass at Long Barrow crossroads should be dropped, he said. “My constituents have been promised so much by so many Government ministers on this issue over many years and sadly, they have been let down every time,” he added.
In response, the Government’s transport under-secretary Robert Goodwill said he was aware of the problems at Stonehenge and of issues with traffic backing up from the visitor centre car park.
Announcements on road schemes will be made in the Autumn Statement, including a set of strategies for the entire network, including the A303.
In the meantime, the Highways Agency and Wiltshire Police would work with all parties to prevent traffic problems, he said.
After the debate, Mr Glen said it had been worthwhile to make it clear that action was required. He said he would be working on more details about the cost of tunnelling.