Tunnel is keeping its promises to commuters

112657-271_HINDHEAD_OPEN_SR_27/7/11'The northbound entrance to the Hindhead Tunnel.''Picture:Steve Reid 112657-271
112657-271_HINDHEAD_OPEN_SR_27/7/11'The northbound entrance to the Hindhead Tunnel.''Picture:Steve Reid 112657-271
File photo of the M27

Picture: Paul Jacobs

Traffic as delayed roadworks shut motorway

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IT has been a month since the Hindhead Tunnel opened, and businesses across the region are reaping the rewards promised to them.

On July 27 transport secretary Philip Hammond took a pair of scissors and cut the tape to open the new tunnel.

Local firms and commuters had been told their journey time between Portsmouth and London would be cut down by as much as 30 minutes.

And, while some say it’s still too early to tell what the full impact of the tunnel has been because of the school holidays, the signs are good.

Sally Waddington, owner of Nursery Fresh in Horndean, said before the tunnel opened that she expected it to make a huge difference to her delivery drivers.

And it hasn’t disappointed.

She said: ‘It’s made a massive difference.

‘We can now be at florist shops in Guildford in around half an hour.

‘Before the tunnel opened our drivers would spend 45 minutes just stuck in traffic.’

The company had estimated their drivers wasted 117 hours every year waiting for the Hindhead lights to change.

‘The tunnel is a huge benefit,’ she said.

Commuter Steve Coe, who travels to London Bridge to work as a film writer, said he was going to wait another fortnight or so before making his final judgement on the tunnel.

But he said: ‘The Hindhead Tunnel has saved me time.

‘It seems to have taken about 20 to 30 minutes off – however, it’s summer holidays, which is usually quiet anyway.’

The tunnel was built as part of a £371m development which will also see the old A3 dug up and the area around the Devil’s Punchbowl returned to nature.

It will take up to 36,000 vehicles a day which had previously been funnelled through Hindhead.

The project’s engineers say the tunnel is the longest under-land road tunnel in the UK, at 1.25 miles long.