A local traffic group has called on the government to dual the A303 west from Stonehenge.
Stonehenge Traffic Action Group (STAG) was created just 12 weeks ago in an effort to address ‘rat run’ problems around a Stonehenge road closure, but is widening its net to the whole A303 corridor and beyond.
Building on its success to date, with more than 1,400 petition signatures, STAG is now urging the government to dual the A303 west from Stonehenge. The group’s campaign, dubbed ‘SH2’ reflects the social and economic significance of the road.
Traffic congestion on the single-carriageway stretch of the ‘Highway to the Sun’ past Stonehenge has been a growing issue for decades.
According to STAG, the recent closure of the A303/A344 junction combined with improvements to the Longbarrow roundabout, both to make way for the new Stonehenge Visitors Centre, has only exacerbated the problem. Tailbacks now stretch regularly up to five miles east and west on the A303, with crossing times for north-south traffic also increased. Even without long tailbacks, the diversion around the closure routinely adds up to six minutes to local journeys.
STAG was established by Janice Hassett from the Wiltshire village of Shrewton which is not only one of the communities worst affected by rat-running around the road closure, but also the historical home of Sir Cecil Chubb – who bequeathed Stonehenge to the nation.
She said: “I started the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group in direct response to a near miss with a heavy vehicle as I walked out of our village shop onto Shrewton High Street which, may I add, has a two ton weight limit. Although STAG came about at a village level and out of safety concerns, the speed, strength and breadth of support made me realise this was bigger than just Shrewton. Out of this wider geographical interest STAG quickly expanded its focus, launching the SH2 campaign to emphasise that the A303 is of national importance, just like the HS2 rail plan, for instance.”
Ian West, county councillor for Till and Wylye Valley and parish councillor for Winterbourne Stoke, added: “Supporters from as far afield as Maryland, China and the Ukraine are telling us that English Heritage’s closure of the A344 is impacting communities and commerce all along the A303 corridor, whilst jeopardising the very tourism that they are trying to promote.”
SH2 offers shared tools, a communal contact book and a consistent voice to action groups across the west country. The campaign delivers a simple message to politicians: ‘Unjam today, not jam tomorrow’.