Weymouth Olympic relief road is opened

An £89m relief road has opened in Dorset following a series of delays.

The road has been built to ease traffic between the towns of Weymouth and Portland, which are hosting the Olympic 2012 sailing events, and Dorchester.

It was due to open in December but the southern part took longer to complete than first planned due to bad weather.

The 4.5-mile (7km) road will carry 35,000 vehicles each day and slightly shorten journey times, but the project has angered some environmentalists.

Drivers have been warned of a brief delay on the existing A354 while barriers are removed and people are directed on to the new road.

Jobs risk

The road was given the green light in December 2003 by the then Labour government.

However work did not start until five years later after environmental groups mounted a High Court challenge to stop it from being built.

In October 2007 Dorset County Council published an economic impact report on the road which found that if plans did not go ahead 2,200 jobs would be at risk by 2016.

The project has led to objections from residents, and protesters occupied trees when work to clear the area began in 2008.

Dr Guy Dickinson, founder of Bypass the Bypass, said the money could not be justified.

"Most importantly (it is) completely wrecking an area of outstanding natural beauty and part of ancient woodland."

The road, which was first proposed in 1948, was "officially opened" by the Princess Royal in December.

Andy Ackerman, head of highways at Dorset County Council, said the road would "greatly enhance" public transport.

Weymouth and Portland will host 400 international sailors at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Another road works project costing £9m is being carried out to ease congestion in Weymouth and Portland.

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