Hindhead Tunnel on the A3 in Surrey

We took this – admittedly not terribly good – photo yesterday on the A3 yesterday.  It shows the recently-opened tunnel under the Devil’s Punch Bowl Area of Outstanding National Beauty at Hindhead:
It made me think about two things.  First, about beauty, both the beauty of the area and the beauty of well-executed engineering.  New roads are not very fashionable now, given the understandable environmental concerns about the impact of road transport, but I have always seen beauty in well-built new British trunk roads and motorways, which are built to very high design standards and are mercifully clear of advertising.
Furthermore – unlike the lost opportunity with the Winchester bypass which carves through Twyford Down rather than under it – this brand-new tunnel takes traffic and air pollution away from the beautiful Devil’s Punch Bowl, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions from the previously interminable jams at Hindhead.
It also finally completes road dualling from London to Portsmouth. I am pleased that, at last, preparatory work is starting on the final link in the A11 at Elveden on the Norfolk/Suffolk border will do the same for Norwich.
My second thought was about the incredible amount of time that it takes for us to build critical national infrastructure in the UK.
My first job on joining the Civil Service in 1978 was to work with the Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) on the Motorway Trunk Road Programme.  The LAC was a Committee of “the great and good” who advised the Highway Command of the Department  of Transport on how to minimise the impact of new roads on the landscape, this being the major environmental issue in road development at the time.
The Committee drove down the A3 looking at the options for turning it from a single to a dual carriageway, and one of the most challenging areas was the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Now – some 33 years later, that’s a whole third of a Century – we have the new road open!
I am delighted that it is in itself a project of great engineering beauty – at least to my eye – and that it protects and enhances the area of outstanding natural beauty by taking cars out of the Devil’s Punch Bowl.

About paulcoby
I am CIO at the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. I was Chair of SITA - the airline solutions company owned by the Air Transport Community - for 11 years. I am also on the Boards of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and Pets at Home. Previously I was Head of BA Services and for 10 years CIO at British Airways. I am interested in Roman and Military History. The views expressed are entirely my own not my employers.

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