THE controversial scheme to remove Weymouth's historic harbour rail lines is now under way, temporarily closing a stretch of a busy town centre road.

King Street is now closed to traffic after work started yesterday morning, with some drivers reporting confusion over the diversion route in place.

The usually busy road has been relatively quiet - albeit with a steady stream of drivers travelling down from The Esplanade to access nearby businesses - or to make a U-turn after finding King Street closed at its junction with Commercial Road.

Traffic is being diverted via Weymouth Way, Dorchester Road, Westerhall, The Esplanade and King Street.

Dorset Echo: Map of road works and diversion route Picture: Dorset CouncilMap of road works and diversion route Picture: Dorset Council

Tomorrow the current three-day phase of work at the King Street and Commercial Road junction is due to change, as highways teams move further along Commercial Road. Below are full details of closures over the next eight weeks.

Dorset Council is removing the historic rail lines due to health and safety concerns, following a string of high profile accidents.

Dorset Echo:

The lines pose a particular hazard to cyclists and motorcyclists as wheels can become trapped between the rails, which are also slippery when wet - although many residents are unhappy about the lines being ripped up. The council said it is investigating ways to preserve the historic aspect of the old railway.

Dorset Echo:

Yesterday drivers reported confusion over the diversion route and called for a clearer map of the closures.

However nearby businesses said they have been unaffected by the works so far.

At the Esso garage on King Street, where drivers have been making U-turns on the forecourt, staff member Ian Jolliffe said: "It's been pretty quiet to be honest. There has been a bit of confusion but the (road closed) signs are clear enough - drivers just need to pay more attention to them."

Dorset Echo:

Nearby is the Weymouth office of Weyline Taxis. At the time of writing, taxi drivers had not reported any issues with the scheme.

"We've been pretty busy so far, it's not really affected us," said taxi operator Tina Mahalski. "To be honest we probably won't see the effects until later on - it's still early days."

Also working at the taxi control desk was Jules Kinnersley, who added: "The real issues could arise in a few weeks or so. If the closures mean drivers have to go a longer way round it could lead to complaints from customers if fares increase or journey times are affected.

"So far we've not had any feedback from drivers to say it's causing an issue."

The project is set to continue for eight weeks. Tomorrow, highways teams are due to finish work at their current position and will move along Commercial Road, which will be closed in several stages with each section reopening as the next one closes, to minimise disruption. Closures will be in place 24 hours a day.

Here are full details of the road closure schedule from tomorrow:

  1. Commercial Road closed from dead-end/terrace to bus depot
  2. Commercial Road closed from bus depot to Melcombe Regis Car Park, car park access/egress south only, Bath Street will be closed during this phase and no access from Gloucester Street onto Commercial Road
  3. Commercial Road closed from Melcombe Regis Car Park to Westham Road, car park access/egress north only, access maintained into Westham Road from the south but no access onto Westham Bridge
  4. Commercial Road closed from Westham Road to Mulberry Terrace (Town Council offices), access maintained into Westham Road from the north
  5. Commercial Road closed from Mulberry Terrace to Harbourside Car Park, car park access from the south only
  6. Commercial Road closed from Harbourside Car Park to multi-storey car park, access maintained into/out of multi-storey car park from the south only
  7. Commercial Road closed from multi-storey car park to Cosens Quay Car Park, access into multi-storey car park from the north and exit southbound only

During closures on Commercial Road, traffic will be diverted to use King Street – The Esplanade (northbound) – Westerhall – The Esplanade (southbound) – Custom House Quay – Commercial Road.

To support the diversion of traffic along Custom House Quay, parking spaces between Cosens Quay and South Parade will be temporarily closed and Custom House Quay will become two-way during the work. Permit holders in this area will be able to use The Pavilion Car Park during this time.

The council's project team is working with bus companies to ensure routes can continue, some changes may be necessary, look out for any notice of change at your local bus stop.