MPs have welcomed the Government's confirmed backing for a tunnel running past Stonehenge, saying it could ease traffic on the Bristol section of the M5 as a result.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today announced £1.4 billion plans for a 1.8 mile dual-carriageway tunnel on the A303, which is designed to take traffic away from the site of the ancient Wiltshire monument, where drivers often slow down to take a look at the stones.
The trunk road currently links the M3 and M5 but is renowned for its tailbacks, which mean that many drivers heading from London and the Home Counties to Devon and Cornwall prefer the longer, but often faster, route of using the M4 and M5, via the Almondsbury Interchange.
The A303 tunnel will take traffic away from the Stonehenge monument John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, heralded the announcement, saying it could bring relief for road users around the Bristol and North Somerset area.
"Hooray! A303 upgrade plans should cut through-traffic on M4-M5," he tweeted.
"Less pressure on [Weston-super-Mare's] Junction 21 means fewer queues and greener journeys," he added.
North Somerset MP and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox added: "As a local MP, I welcome this announcement and it shows the Conservative Government keeping its promises to the South West."
MP John Penrose believes traffic on the M5 will be cut when the A303 has a dual-carriageway The proposals, which are part of a £2 billion scheme to create a dual carriageway along the whole of the A303 – one of the central Tory election pledges for the South West – will now open to consultation from drivers and residents until March 5.
The Stonehenge section is just one of many points on the road where queues build up, particularly at weekends during the summer.
Mr Grayling says the Stonehenge tunnel and dualling will "transform" the A-road, leading to a reduction in congestion and improved journey times.
Currently, the A303 passes just metres away from Stonehenge, which is a massive tourist attraction as well as an important part of Britain's history.
Campaign group Stonehenge Alliance has criticised the tunnel plans Historic England "welcomed" news of the consultation, having previously said the current road layout "cuts the stones off from much of the surrounding ancient landscape and many prehistoric monuments".
But some campaigners are not happy.
Campaign group Stonehenge Alliance believes any tunnel shorter than 2.7 miles would do "irreparable damage to the landscape".