25th February 1970
The tunnel is opened beneath Fort Regent
The tunnel running beneath Fort Regent finally opened seven years (less six days) after it was approved, finally providing a desperately needed short cut for traffic travelling through St Helier. Unfortunately, it was built very much to cater for the level of traffic that was prevalent at the time of its design, providing capacity for just one lane of traffic in either direction. It links the Route de la Liberation and Route du Fort.
Its construction involved the compulsory purchase of several private buildings and relocating a statue of Queen Victoria, initially to what is now Liberation Square and latterly to what’s now Victoria Park. The project cost £450,000 to complete (around £7m in 2019) which, at an overall length of 253m (830ft), averages out at £1,778 (£60,000 in 2019) per metre. Almost 9m wide and 7m tall, boring it required the removal of more than 50,000 tons of rock, with the walls, floor and ceiling reinforced by concrete.
It took just eight months for workers to break through from one side of the hill to the other, completing the task shortly before 6pm on 27 August 1969. Less than six months later, Sir Robert Le Masurier, then bailiff, officially became the first person to use it. Initially, it was designed solely for cars to use, but public pressure eventually saw the addition of narrow, fenced pathways running along either wall.
The tunnel has been upgraded several times over the years as components, like the cladding, with its 25-year maximum lifespan, needed replacing.
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Other events that occured in February
The Channel Islands are cut off from the outside world
- The only communications link between Jersey and the mainland was severed, leaving the island isolated from the outside world.
- Read more…