Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Tunnel workers meet in the middle

Excavation works starts on the A3 tunnel
The tunnel is set to ease congestion around the Devil's Punchbowl

Workers at the north and south sections of a 371m tunnel being constructed in Surrey have met in the middle.

The breakthrough was made in the Hindhead Tunnel, which will take the A3 under the Devil's Punchbowl in Hindhead when it is completed in 2011.

Transport minister Paul Clark visited the site to mark the occasion which he said was a major step forward".

The tunnel, 1.9km (1.2 miles) long, is expected to keep 30,000 vehicles a day from the heathland site.

'Better habitat'

Mr Clark said: "It will bring faster and safer journeys on the only trunk road between Portsmouth and London - as well as freeing the centre of Hindhead from the daily gridlock that blights the area.

"This will deliver real benefits to local people, whether they are drivers, horse riders, cyclists or pedestrians, whilst creating a better habitat for local wildlife and preserving the beauty of the landscape."

Excavation work on the passage, which will complete the dual carriageway between Portsmouth and London, began in February 2008.

In October 2008, as part of the scheme, a new crossing was opened underneath the A3 for farmers, walkers, riders and cyclists.

Viewing platforms have also been built near the site to allow the public to see the work taking place.

The Devil's Punchbowl is a large hollow of dry sandy heath, located to the west of Hindhead.

It is a site of special scientific interest and part of an international special protection area designated under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.


Tunnel workers meet in middle

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