THE Friends of Abingdon Civic Society has said two proposed pedestrian crossings aimed at improving traffic congestion must be trialled before becoming permanent.

The crossings planned for Ock Street and Marcham Road are being proposed to help reduce long traffic queues at rush hour which residents say will be exacerbated further by occupants of a new 159-home estate on Drayton Road.

The estate was granted permission on appeal last year after a lengthy battle by residents against developer, Hallam Land Management.

Planning inspector John Watson gave Hallam permission in July with the caveat that before any development begins, Oxfordshire County Council must give written confirmation that the two new crossings will be created.

The plans, on which the council is running a public consultation which ends tomorrow, would create one new pedestrian crossing on Ock Street, east of the junction with Drayton Road. It would also move the current crossing on Marcham Road to the west of Drayton Road junction, further west.

The hope is that pedestrians using the crossings would break up the traffic flow on the A415 – Marcham Road turning into Ock Street – to allow cars queueing on Drayton Road to enter the flow.

However, the Friends of Abingdon Civic Society said the crossings won’t make any difference, and has written to the county council urging it to trial the scheme before deciding whether to make it permanent.

Spokeswoman Roberta Nichols said: “It won’t make any difference, and no-one who lives there can see how this will have any effect on traffic.

“People already say it takes them an hour to make what should be a ten-minute journey.

“The problem with highways officers is that they use computer models, but you don’t know what will happen until you try it.”

Sheffield-based developer Hallam estimated that the new homes would add an extra 100 vehicle journeys every day to the existing 1,200 on Drayton Road.

County councillor for Abingdon South, Neil Fawcett, said he agreed with the Abingdon group.

Liberal Democrat Mr Fawcett, who lives in Turberville Close, said: “If the council are minded to go ahead with this plan, it would make a lot of sense to have a trial first, before giving formal approval.

“I personally think moving the Marcham Road crossing a few yards to the west isn’t going to make a serious difference one way or another.

“But I have serious concerns about creating the new crossing on Ock Street – traffic already queues back to the town centre from that junction.”

He encouraged residents to send their views to the council before the consultation period ends tomorrow.

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said: “The crossings were deemed necessary by the planning inspector as necessary mitigation of the transport effects of the development.

“The responses to the consultation are due to be considered at the county council’s meeting in March.”

He said if proposals were approved, work on the crossings, which could cost up to £50,000, could begin about three months later.