Stonehenge, the prehistoric stone monument dating back to as early as 3000 BC, has lately become embroiled in a modern traffic controversy. A new $2.4 billion proposal green-lit by the U.K. government plans to construct a 1.8-mile tunnel beneath the famous landmark, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
While supporters, which include the charity English Heritage, argue the tunnel would help relieve traffic congestion along the A303 road and stimulate the local economy, others worry that such a massive project could destroy undiscovered artifacts of immeasurable value.
The illumination of one of the tunnel entrances might also interfere with the view of the sunset at the winter solstice—a moment when thousands of people convene at the historic site. On the other hand, proponents of the plan say the tunnel would eliminate the sounds of traffic for visitors to the henge, and make it easier to navigate the area on busy days.
Historian Tom Holland told CNN that Stonehenge was “the birthplace of Britain,” adding, “It staggers belief that we can inject enormous quantities of concrete to build a tunnel that will last at best 100 years and therefore decimate a landscape that has lasted for millennia.”
President of the local chamber of commerce, Andy Rhind-Tutt also opposes the tunnel proposal, equating it to putting “a time bomb of irreversible destruction on one of the world’s greatest untouched landscapes.”
The plan is under public comment until March 5. The official tunnel route will be unveiled by the end of 2017, with construction expected to begin in 2020.