Ten things you might not know about the Hindhead Tunnel on its tenth birthday

Tap to find out how the Hindhead Tunnel has exceeded expectation over the last decade

It is ten years since the Hindhead Tunnel was built but how much do you know about the pioneering road project?

At 1.2 miles long it is the longest road tunnel in the UK, replacing the old single-carriageway stretch of the A3, with its opening in July 2011 transforming journeys for tens of thousands of drivers every day.

First spoken about in the 90s, Government’s through the years were under pressure to balance the needs of drivers who faced the daily challenge of navigating the notorious Hindhead bottleneck, but also environmental campaigners concerned about the impact of a new road scheme.

After years of discussion and debate, in 2006 the £370 million project was given the go-ahead.

Before its opening, traffic would run beside the Devil’s Punch rather than under it, blighting the area of outstanding natural beauty with pollution and noise.

Residents were given the chance to walk through the tunnel before it opened to vehicles Credit: Richard Lawley

Ten in ten - check your Hindhead Tunnel knowledge

  • The route is made up of around 1 mile of bored tunnel

  • The tunnel reaches its maximum depth at around 65 meters at Giblet Hill

  • 737,000 cubic meters of soil was excavated when the tunnels were bored.

  • Around 92% of the soil excavated to build the tunnel was used to cover the old part of the old A3

  • Traffic flows through the tunnel at around 55 miles per hour

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond stands in front of the Northbound entrance of the new Hindhead Tunnel after officially opening the site. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images
  • There are 122 CCTV cameras in the tunnel

  • The project came in 2% under budget

  • If the Hindhead Tunnel was to be built from scratch Highways England say it would cost over £600 million 

  • 87,260 vehicles use the tunnels every day

  • Before the tunnel opened local people were given the chance to walk through the structure

Britain's longest road tunnel during construction Credit: Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA Images

A decade since the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel, which forms part of a four-mile bypass, the Surrey Hills Area has seen huge restoration meeting its natural conservation targets.

Breedings birds such as woodlark and nightjar have made a return while insects such as the rare heath tiger beetle have also been spotted.

Air quality in the village of Hindhead has also seen significant improvements seeing a decline in pollution levels since the road tunnel opened. In 2015 the village met national standards.

The Hindhead Tunnel project has brought huge environmental benefits Credit: Highways England

Speaking on the tunnels anniversary, Highways England senior environmental advisor Henry Penner, who worked on the project said,"As we seek to build back better, the Hindhead Tunnel shows how, by using high design standards, the longest road tunnel in the UK to date has enhanced the surrounding environment, solved long-standing traffic problems and helped to support the economy through a better connection between London and the south coast.

"I am delighted that this area has become one of the top wildlife sites in the south east of England and provides a haven for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago, the busy A3 still ran right through the middle of this community."

There have been criticism about closures of the tunnel and the impact this has on neighboring villages but Highways England say millions have benefited from the scheme over the decade.

Director of Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Rob Fairbanks added,

"The Hindhead Tunnel Scheme is by far the largest capital investment in restoring nature, connectivity and tranquillity in the Surrey Hills since it was designated in 1958. It is also perhaps the largest single civil engineering investment in all of the country’s 44 National Parks and AONBs. The Hindhead Tunnel has been fantastic in terms of nature and people, and it’s wonderful to see how ten years after the tunnel was built, that nature has been fully restored to the area for the first time in nearly 200 years."