EXTRA pedestrian crossings are being planned for one of Dorchester’s busiest road junctions – but motorists could lose a lane as a result.

The additional crossings at Maumbury Cross should make the trips to and from school safer for hundreds of pupils.

Other changes being considered include moving the pedestrian crossing already on the narrow Weymouth Avenue railway bridge further south, which in turn will mean a move for the bus stop on the west side of the road.

Town councillors in Dorchester have given their approval to the Dorset Council plans for the junction and the move of the Weymouth Avenue pedestrian crossing almost 50metres south to a spot roughly half-way between the Queens Avenue and Edward Road junctions.

The main purpose in moving the existing crossing is to avoid pedestrians, especially at school times, having to share a very narrow pavement which is unable to be made any wider because of the rail bridge. People frequently have to step into the road to get by each other, risking being hit by passing traffic.

Members of the Dorset Council project team were told by town councillors that they believe the changes will make the junction much safer, possibly encouraging more people to walk or cycle into town, or to schools, rather than drive.

The proposals include a Puffin pedestrian crossing on each of the arms of the Maumbury Cross junction, one of the busiest in the town with the existing yellow ‘box’ areas to remain in place to protect the junctions at Queens Avenue and Edward Road.

Town councillors heard that because of width restrictions and angle of the turn from Maumbury Road into Weymouth Avenue southwards the changes may result in the loss of one of the two lanes at the traffic lights, but will allow a cycle lane to be added there and on the continuation of Maumbury Road on the opposite side of the junction.

Cllr David Taylor said the loss of that lane was his only reservation about the scheme – warning that it could lead to queues at peak times, especially when Manor Park schools were closing at the end of their day.

“I understand that it’s a very difficult junction to sort out but if the lanes are reduced from two into one there could be some real problems,” he said.

Cllr Les Fry shared the concern, suggesting that if the proposal to remove the lane is to go ahead, it could be tried first by using temporary cones or barriers to see the effect, before becoming a permanent feature, which would then be difficult to remove.

It has been officially recognised that changes are needed at the Maumbury Cross junction since 2005 with an alternative gyratory scheme first suggested but then dropped, because of the cost, around ten years ago by the former Dorset County Council.

Dorset Council admits, as did the previous council, that the whole junction is poor laid out for pedestrians, especially the pavement over the rail bridge, which is barely 1-metre wide when it should be at least 1.8metres, and ideally more than 2metres.

The proposals to move the Weymouth Avenue pedestrian crossing, making it a Puffin crossing, is expected to be advertised for public consultation in the coming weeks, with the other changes to Maumbury Cross to follow.