Good to see old A3 being given back to nature

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LESLEY KEATING: A white-knuckle pursuit ending with a lesson in trust

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Isn’t it good to see the old A3 finally being given back to nature?

Look at the photograph on page 16 and you’ll see that a stretch of Tarmac has now been removed and the area around the top of the Devil’s Punchbowl is going to be left to grow wild.

After all those years of bumper-to-bumper traffic as people headed to and from London, the road is now going to disappear beneath greenery as if it never even existed.

Meanwhile the cars and lorries that once used this route speed on their way via the new Hindhead Tunnel.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the whole of the south of England.

Now, with a busy road no longer around its rim, the area should be much more accessible for people to enjoy.

The other bonus, of course, is the tunnel itself.

An impressive engineering feat, it has succeeded in taking away the traffic that blighted Hindhead village and has cut journey times to the capital by an average of 20 minutes.

So there’s a benefit to nature by enabling the old A3 to be returned to its natural heathland state, effectively reuniting the Devil’s Punchbowl with Hindhead Common for the first time in many years.

But there’s also a huge economic benefit to this area by having a much-improved route to London. Such links have to be good for business.

The tunnel was a major project and, seven months after it opened to the first vehicles, it is certainly a success story.

The old bottleneck of the A3/A287 crossroads has been eliminated and 30,000 vehicles a day have been successfully moved away from the shoulder of the Devil’s Punchbowl and out of sight in the new tunnel.

As motorists head through the tunnel without delay, they should cast their minds back to the long waits they used to endure as they crawled their way via car-clogged Hindhead.

For them and the residents, thankfully that is now just a memory.