Byline: BARBARA GOULDEN
PROPOSALS to flatten stretches of Coventry's ring road as part of massive city centre regeneration are still up in the air.
The ring road has always divided opinion in the city, with its supporters hailing it as a logical system which helps Coventry's traffic flow better than other major cities, while its critics describe it as a confusing concrete eyesore. As the debate continues, reporter BARBARA GOULDEN speaks to the man who oversaw the development of modern Coventry, including the ring road, and who has written a book about it all.
RETIRED city engineer Brian Redknap has produced an authorative new booklet detailing the modern - and medieval roots - of Coventry.
He also explains why the city's ring road is one of the safest stretches of road in the country.
Mr Redknapp, now aged 77, of Arlington Avenue, Leamington, was involved in roads, sewage and the rapid re-development of post-war Coventry from 1956 until he retired from the city council in 1989.
He remembers how consultations were held with civil engineers in America and Europe about the idea of a "defensive ring road" making it easier for motorists to go round the city than through it.
And Mr Redknapadmits: "It was such a tight space that we really didn't know whether it was going to work.
"But in fact later studies in the 1970s showed that Coventry's two and a quarter miles of ring road were infinitely safer than the urban streets of other city centres.
"In my view it's still likely to be at least 50 per cent safer in terms of accidents per mile.
"Although some motorists from outside the city may not like it, over the years I think it has saved a great many lives."
Mr Redknapalso revealed that, during detailed planning during the 1950s, the first two stages of the new ring road originally had cycle lanes. These were scrapped as new roundabouts, underpasses and flyovers had to be created.
The whole pounds 14.5 million project took 14 years to complete with the first stage - from the railway station to Holyhead Road - finished in 1962.
The original estimate had been just pounds 1. …