Hindhead Tunnel effect is less than expected

The Hindhead Tunnel
The Hindhead Tunnel
The accident is causing short delays both ways at Southampton Road

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THE Hindhead Tunnel has increased traffic flowing between Portsmouth and the capital – but not as much as some might have expected.

Figures show traffic increased by as much as 15 per cent on some parts of the A3 since the £371m tunnel opened in July 2011.

But further south on the A3(M), traffic has only marginally increased over the two years.

Between Leigh Park (Junction 4) and Havant, the monthly increase is about 20,000 vehicle, or 1.7 per cent, while between Waterlooville and Leigh Park, there are around 24,000 extra vehicles a month, or 2.4 per cent.

Further north around Horndean and Clanfield, Highways Agency figures show an increase of about five per cent, with an extra 40,000 vehicles a month.

Around the Petersfield area the increase is between eight per cent and 14 per cent on north and southbound carriageways.

Horndean councillor Guy Shepherd said: ‘That the increase was as little as five per cent on the A3(M) by Horndean was a surprise. I think everyone’s expectation was that the tunnel would result in a significantly higher figure, and perception was that it had.

‘The benefits clearly outweigh any negatives and for anyone who makes this daily journey to commute to Guildford and beyond, it has given over an hour a day of quality of life back which is fantastic.

‘For businesses working in the area, travel times and deliveries are more efficient and predictable.’

Since the tunnel has opened, Horndean residents have been demanding acoustic barriers to drown out the noise and Cllr Shepherd said this campaign should continue.

Cllr David Guest, who heads regeneration in Havant borough, said: ‘I don’t think there’s a huge amount of increased traffic.

‘But the time taken to get to the M25 has reduced considerably – that’s the issue.

‘It means more people can access London more quickly and that’s got to be good for business.

‘That does not mean there’s going to be more traffic.

‘It’s all about getting better access times.’