Date is announced for the grand opening of the new Hindhead Tunnel

JPNS HINDHEAD TUNNEL ''Development of the Hindhead Tunnel taken June 2011''PICTURE: CREDIT HIGHWAYS AGENCY'Wright, James [James.Wright@highways.gsi.gov.uk]
JPNS HINDHEAD TUNNEL ''Development of the Hindhead Tunnel taken June 2011''PICTURE: CREDIT HIGHWAYS AGENCY'Wright, James [James.Wright@highways.gsi.gov.uk]
Police at the scene near Waddesdon 810054fd-364c-4ef5-84d3-89d35d70

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THE Hindhead tunnel is set to open next Wednesday to southbound traffic, the Highways Agency has confirmed.

Commuters have been eagerly awaiting the new tunnel, which aims to cut down on journey times between Portsmouth and Guildford by up to 40 minutes.

Traffic previously would get snarled up while travelling through Hindhead village, which the tunnel and new dual carriageway bypasses.

And while the tunnel roadworks have been ongoing, drivers have faced lengthy delays as traffic is diverted around the site.

It is not yet known at what time the tunnel will be opened by Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, as part of a ceremony.

Southbound traffic will be the first to use the tunnel, part of a £371m road scheme, and the first cars will be escorted through it by a rolling roadblock of police cars.

Northbound traffic will not be able to use it straight away, due to final adjustments to the road layout being made, but will be introduced to the new road a few days later.

Work on the scheme began four-and-a-half years ago, in January 2007.

It is being opened within budget and ahead of schedule.