A key event for southern England’s transport infrastructure during September 2023 is set to be the commencement of National Highways’ phased safety, refurbishment, and modernisation scheme for the area in and around the Saltash Tunnel.
While the road tunnel on the A38 at Saltash has served this part of Cornwall with distinction since it opened in 1988, it will soon be subject to a £20 million “generational” refurbishment.
This project will encompass enhancements to the Tunnel & Traffic Control System, electrical distribution, electronic signage, lighting, and fans. However, what National Highways has described as “the bulk of the work” will not occur until 2024.
Before then, site preparation work will be carried out, including the removal of old cabling. National Highways said that this would happen ahead of, and alongside, a speed reduction initiative to help improve safety on roads leading to and near the tunnel.
What will the speed reduction scheme involve?
The Government-owned company that is responsible for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of England’s motorways and major A roads, stated in a press release that it would be lowering the speed limit on the A38 between the Saltash Tunnel and Carkeel roundabout.
This move, the organisation said, was motivated by its “commitment to safety and air quality”.
The initiative will see the speed restriction lowered from 70mph to 50mph, as well as the installation of average speed cameras as a means of enforcing the 30mph limit through the tunnel and on the B3271 and North Road diversion routes.
“It is essential that we replace our systems”
Julian Mitchell, Tunnel Manager at National Highways, commented: “The tunnel is safe, but it is essential that we replace our systems which have been operating for more than 20 years.
“We’re currently in the detailed design and construction planning stages, and in the meantime, while the speed reduction scheme takes place, we’ll be preparing the site by stripping out the outdated and redundant equipment and cleaning and preparing cable routes for the kilometres of cabling that will need to be installed.”
It has been confirmed that in order for the modernisation preparatory work to take place, the tunnel will be closed on weeknights from 8pm to 6am, between Monday 18th September and 7th October. During these periods, traffic will be diverted via the B3271 and North Road.
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