A PLAN for a £42million road tunnel between Godmanchester and Hartford has this week been derided by planners and engineers. It is not clear whose idea the tunnel is, but The Hunts Post has been handed the first four pages of what purports to be a feasi
A 'PLAN' for a £42million road tunnel between Godmanchester and Hartford has this week been derided by planners and engineers.
It is not clear whose idea the tunnel is, but The Hunts Post has been handed the first four pages of what purports to be a feasibility study by consultants into the project, supposedly aimed at removing traffic from the mediaeval bridge linking Huntingdon and Godmanchester, of which the "structural integrity is seriously in doubt, even in the short term".
The supposed draft consultants' report, the authors of which refuse to name their client, is dated July 2008. The Hartford end of the tunnel would join Hartford Road somewhere between Primrose Lane and Sapley Road. The site of the Godmanchester portal is not identified.
But it says: "It will be recognised that the possible location of the proposed tunnel will cause some considerable disquiet by property owners in the locality, both sides of the river, but especially in Huntingdon."
The authors claim to have taken covert geological samples using portable drilling rigs. The ballpark cost is put at £42million for 38 weeks' construction work.
Planners laughed at the idea, assuming it to be a hoax - also The Hunts Post's initial reaction.
Editor Andy Veale said: "My first instinct was to look at the date, but there was no mention of April 1. The only date on the document is July 2008."
Huntingdonshire District Council's head of planning Steve Ingram had difficulty concealing his mirth.
"It would be lunacy, of course. It's a bit wet out there. In any case, when the A14 viaduct comes down and the A14 is sorted, we shall be able to discourage traffic from using the old bridge."
Cambridgeshire County Council said its transport planners had "no knowledge of any such scheme". A spokesman also denied the claims about the 14th century bridge's structural integrity.
And, when Richard Meredith, secretary of Huntingdon and Godmanchester Civic Society, had recovered his composure, he added: "I cannot see how you could do it. It's typical of plans being produced that bear no real relationship to the problems we have. When the A14 is sorted, we won't need anything else. It's ridiculous - totally bizarre."
Retired civil engineer Ieuan Evans, from Buckden, said such a scheme was technically possible, but would be ridiculously expensive and impractical.
Mr Evans, a former regional director of the Department of Transport, who was involved in the design and construction of the A14, added: "Another bridge would be cheaper. Tunnelling is difficult there because there's a lot of gravel in the clay and not much room, and you would have to have some dramatic way of keeping the water out."
He said a tunnel would have to be at least 15 metres in diameter - possibly more to accommodate HGVs - and it would need to be pumped and lit round the clock, so the maintenance cost would be high.
Mr Evans's preferred option is to retain the existing A14 viaduct over the railway at Huntingdon station, which the Highways Agency wants to demolish as part of the £1.2billion upgrade of the road.
"What would be feasible, however, would be to run the bypass overland from the A141 to the interchange at Godmanchester. The CHUMMS study had that as an option [in 2001] for a later stage, so it could be a future possibility."
Feasible maybe, but unlikely to be popular with planners or environmentalists.
INFORMATION: Do you know who is behind the supposed plan? Would you support it? Contact The Hunts Post by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB.