Artists impression of the Solent Freedom Tunnel portal at Whippingham.
Carl shares this latest news from Able Connections Ltd. Ed
The Able Connections proposal is to create a new North-South axis through the centre of the Solent region by constructing a tunnel from the M27 east of junction 9 to the Whippingham roundabout on the Isle of Wight, with an additional access intersection ‘cut and cover’ portal near the mainland coast between Browndown and Meon (options being discussed).
The scheme brings a range of benefits to the region, including a step change in the connectivity of the Solent’s emerging mass transit public transport network, reduced highway congestion, reduced HGVs in city centres, new habitat for wildlife and public amenity, agglomeration benefits for industries in the Aerospace, Marine Defence and Composites sectors and other major employers in south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as well as improved accessibility for tourists to the Island.
The scheme has the potential to be largely self-funding.
Benefits for mainland
Although the scheme arose from the “PRO-LINK” lobby group on the Isle of Wight, and the benefits to the Island are enormous, the impacts and benefits on the mainland side are easily as large.
Specifically, the scheme addresses highway capacity in the Fareham/ Titchfield/ Stubbington corridor, potentially reduces HGV movements through the centres of Southampton and Portsmouth and provides a line of route for the Eclipse BRT from Daedalus EZ to a new interchange hub with the proposed phase two metro to Segensworth.
Benefits for Island
Agglomeration benefits arise by bringing the large integrators on the Medina Valley closer to their supply chain in South Hampshire.
All of this is on top of journey-time savings for existing cross-Solent travel estimated in accordance with DfT methodology to be worth in the range £38m – £64m per year.
Discussions with relevant local authorities
We have had conversations so far with officers from Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Fareham councils; Solent Transport; the MPs for Gosport and the Isle of Wight (and would have met Fareham too had the election not been called), and various Island councillors and stakeholders which are all encouraging.
Feasibility study required
The next stage of work is to seek public support for a feasibility study (funded either privately or publicly) to prove our assumptions about usage and construction costs.
The CGI artist’s impression of the Isle of Wight tunnel at Whippingham, produced for Able Connections, is intended to portray the opportunities that this project can facilitate, for both Islanders and also those on the mainland too.
Image: © Able Communications Ltd