CALLS were made today for an independent review into a controversial junction in Weymouth.
The town needs ‘reassurance’ the harbour crossroads at the bottom of Boot Hill is as safe as it can be, locals say.
Borough councillor Mike Byatt heard of drivers’ fears on a visit to the junction.
Mr Byatt said the recent tragedy in which teenager Lewis Monks was killed just yards from the junction has reinforced his view that an independent study is needed to examine the configuration of harbour crossroads and the traffic flows around it.
However, he said there was no suggestion the junction’s configuration played any part in the accident and said everyone must respect the ongoing investigation before making any rash judgements.
He is supporting concerns raised by Weymouth and Portland Hackney Carriage Association and is taking the issue up with the highways authority, Dorset County Council.
Coun Byatt, whose Westham East ward includes the junction, said: “For some time, there’s been disquiet about the configuration of the junction.
“A few weeks ago I visited the site to hear of concerns. I was told it was an accident waiting to happen and that drivers and pedestrians were at risk.
“Since then we have had a terrible tragedy, the cause of which is being investigated and I wouldn’t want to comment on that.
“But what I would say is that we need to be confident and have reassurance that the junction is safe and we need an independent survey to tell us that.
“Personally, I think the junction is confusing – people are hesitant when they use it.”
Committee member of the Hackney Carriage Association Eddie Hawkins described it as a ‘very dangerous junction’.
His concerns relate to visibility, location of crossings and traffic lights, and the fact the road narrows on the approach to the pedestrian crossing in Newstead Road.
Mr Hawkins said: “If the junction was a crossroads it would be fine but it isn’t, you have roads leading up to it at different angles.
“I call it kamikaze junction. Many people I know avoid it.
“It would be worse when the holidaymakers are here but the town is quiet.”
He added: “We need an independent assessment. Dorset County Council couldn’t do it because officers are not going to turn around and admit they’re wrong.”
Mr Hawkins is also concerned about other junctions in the town and says they all need looking at.
Park District resident Dave Burchill, who was involved in a minor collision at harbour crossroads, said: “It’s not working.
“Locals are avoiding it because it’s not safe. The whole system is ridiculous. It was supposed to stop the jams but there’s still long queues along Westwey Road, The Esplanade and King Street.”
Southill resident Ian Brooke, who raised objections to the new traffic scheme last year, said: “I don’t think harbour junction will ever work.
“I think the solution would be to put a roundabout in the middle with traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic using it.”
road designed as part of transport package
HARBOUR crossroads was constructed 18 months ago as part of the Weymouth Transport Package.
It was one of four junctions that used to be roundabouts and were converted into traffic light- controlled crossroads.
Safety fears were raised about the junction from day one with people complaining it was a ‘no man’s land’. Problems centred on which drivers have priority.
Dorset County Council was forced to make alterations in a bid to make it safer.
In response to the latest concerns the head of Dorset Highways Mike Winters said: “As part of highways management an independent team will undertake safety audits on all road designs, both during the design stages and once a new layout is in place.
“These safety audits were carried out at this junction, and any safety concerns identified were resolved during the process.”
He added: “As yet we haven’t received a letter from the taxi drivers’ association but we will be happy to discuss any concerns they have and, if necessary, work together to address them.”