A360 to close for THREE MONTHS as Stonehenge work gets underway in Wiltshire

A SECTION of the A360 is to be closed for three months – for work to begin ahead of the new tunnel near Stonehenge.

National Highways has revealed the stretch, between the junction of The Avenue and Longbarrow on the A303, will be shut from early April, just after the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Following the recent High Court ruling in favour of the contrvoersial tunnel scheme at Stonehenge, National Highways is firming up plans for the essential utilities work, which will start in parallel with the conclusion of the legal process.

Now, SSEN (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks) is set to install high voltage and fibre optic cabling along the route, south of the A303, requiring the A360 to close.

It is hoped the closure will help see the work completed before the school summer holidays and ahead of increased traffic volumes, with work set to be carried out seven days a week, with some overnight working.

During the closure, traffic will be diverted via the A345 and sections of the A303 and A36, and a comprehensive signage system is being developed to inform road users around Salisbury and as far away as Devizes and Shaftesbury to point traffic to alternate routes.

In the meantime, traffic monitoring will be carried out on various locations along the diversion routes, week commencing March 18, and again in mid-April, to measure traffic flows.

Provision will be made for emergency services access and access for local landowners, residents and businesses affected by the closures, with arrangements set to be discussed shortly with residents alongside and close to the A360.

David Bullock, National Highways’ project director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “The road scheme will ultimately tackle the longstanding issue of rat running and provide a real benefit to local communities, and for this essential preliminary work, we’ll be doing all we can to put in measures to lessen the impact of this work.

“We need to carry out the work now to ensure our programme timescales and we want to give local communities as much notice as possible.

“We appreciate that roadworks and road closures can be frustrating and we’d like to thank motorists, local residents and businesses in advance for their patience.

“We have deliberately avoided the summer holiday season, but we appreciate the work will impact the Whitsun Week traffic and the Summer Solstice, and we’ll be working hard to minimise disruption during those times and where we can.

“Without the full closure, the work would take a lot longer to complete, and we’re making every effort to ensure that the impact on drivers and local communities is kept to an absolute minimum.”

Businesses and organisations affected by the diversion are being notified, and will be kept up to date by SSEN throughout the work.

People will also be able to find out more information at this month’s Area Board meetings at Salisbury and Stonehenge, and further public information events, as yet to be confirmed.

Mr Bullock added: “Given the delays of the recent legal process, we are having to move quickly but we have been working closely with our local authority partners, and we want to give as much notice as possible to residents, businesses and other interested parties.

“We will also ensure, along with our Wiltshire Council partners, that all traffic management measures and any changes are communicated well in advance.”

Cllr Caroline Thomas, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “Although the A360 is part of our highways network, this work is being carried out by National Highways and SSEN in preparation for the A303 improvement project.

“We know that this closure will affect many Wiltshire residents and visitors, and so our officers have been working closely with partner agencies to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum.

“National Highways will be installing diversion and warning signage in a wide area, from north Dorset to west and south Wiltshire, to ensure as many motorists as possible have an early warning to avoid the closure once the work starts.”

In addition to the power cabling programme, National Highways is currently planning to start archaeological fieldwork and preliminary works in the spring/early summer.

At the conclusion of the legal process, details of the public engagement events will be communicated to local communities and businesses.

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