THE first fully open day of the Canford Bottom junction went “pretty much as well as hoped” – although many drivers were left confused.
The former roundabout near Wimborne has been transformed so that the A31 take priority over the local traffic.
The £5.7 million rebuild started on October 10 last year and the junction was fully open for the first time yesterday.
Drivers on local roads heading to Wimborne, Ferndown, Longham and Colehill, now have to negotiate a series of traffic lights and stop lines that circle the A31.
The junction is designed to ‘spiral’ them to the outside lane but there have been several bumps already as people get used to the system.
A Highways Agency spokesman told the Echo yesterday: “It’s a new road layout and it’s important people give it a bit of extra care and we will assess how it is working as we do for all projects of this kind.
“But it’s working pretty much as well as we could have hoped.”
Around 60,000 people use the junction a day. The Highways Agency said at peak times the average driver should now save 4 minutes 47 seconds.
Wimborne Cllr David Packer, chairman of the town’s planning committee, said: “The flow of traffic seems to be proceeding very well.
“The multitude of traffic lights means you have got to keep your eyes open.
“But I expect it will bed down and people will get used to it.”
Specialist driving instructor John Brown, 70, from Colehill, was yesterday examining the roundabout and is 72 traffic lights. He said: “I think once people get to understand the spiral move across the lanes it will work.
“It’s a big improvement. It’s slowed the traffic down and it’s clear where people are going.”
Chris Slocock, chairman of Wimborne Business Improvement District, said: “It is great to see the roundabout finally open – Wimborne suffered months of disruption in difficult economic times.
“We are concerned, as the roundabout is very complicated with so many lights and short intersections “We cannot yet tell whether the summer queues of traffic will return as normal, or if they have just been moved further down the road, but at the moment traffic does seem to be flowing.”
Echo reporter tries out the new Canford Bottom layout
AS YOU drive over Canford Bottom on the A31, it really hits you – this is not a roundabout anymore.
It’s just a straight dual-carriageway for travellers heading east and west.
And that’s what the engineers wanted, priority for regional traffic.
But that leaves you with a confusing series of moves between Wimborne, Colehill, Ham Lane and Stapehill.
The road markings and signs are clear – if you can see them.
You have to keep stopping at lights and each time scanning the road for the markings you want.
Because the gaps between the lights are so small, you can get caught out.
And will tourists know what the heck ‘C’HILL’ painted on the road means?
The traffic flowed smoothly at mid morning yesterday but you could see confused drivers making last minute moves between lanes.
One driver in front of the Echo did a dangerous sort of U-turn onto the A31 A large lorry heading for Wimborne did not make it through the lights then partly blocked the westbound A31.