Controversial tunnel under Stonehenge approved over archaeologists' objections

Supporters say the highway tunnel will relieve traffic congestion and improve the visitor experience. Opponents fear the loss of ancient artifacts still hidden underground.

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A traffic-snarled stretch of road near Stonehenge will be replaced with a tunnel, the British government has announced.

The British Government has approved a controversial plan to build a four-lane highway tunnel beneath the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. The two-mile-long tunnel and its approaches are part of a $2.2 billion package to upgrade the narrow A303 highway that runs startlingly close to the iconic stone circle and has long been notorious for traffic jams and long delays.

The approval came despite strong objections from an alliance of archaeologists, environmentalists, and modern-day druids, who consider the site sacred. But supporters say the tunnel will restore the landscape to its original setting and improve the experience for visitors, now topping 1.6 million a year.

“Visitors will be able to experience Stonehenge as it ought to be experienced, without seeing an ugly snarl of truck traffic running right next to it,” said Anna Eavis, curatorial director for English Heritage, the charity that looks after more than 400 historical monuments around England, including Stonehenge.

“People forget or don’t realize that Stonehenge is more than just the stone circle, it’s a landscape,” Eavis said. “This will make it a place for walking again....

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