Neville test-drives city's new ring road
WHEN Neville Barr's Austin Seven drove sedately down Mercian Way - there could not have been a more apt car to be the first on the completed inner ring road.
For Mr Barr recalls documents showing that the very first part of the road was planned in 1936 – the same year his vintage car was built.
"I worked in the architects' department at the council house in the early 1960s and in the basement were hundreds of building plans dating back to 1870," he said.
"While looking for something else I found a file with the title Derby Development Plan 1936.
"The plan included the Inner Ring Road, the first section of which was Traffic Street, constructed before the war."
Although most of the ring road was constructed, later phases to join Ford Street and Burton Road were not planned until the 1960s – a time Mr Barr remembers well.
He said: "My parents bought a house in Leopold Street in 1960 when Bradshaw Way was being built and were told that the next section to Burton Road would be built within three years and the street would become a cul-de-sac.
"It has taken 50 years for that to happen."
The decades of work were completed at 1.30pm yesterday when Mercian Way opened, linking Burton Road roundabout with the Stafford Street roundabout. It was the final piece of the £36.2 million Connecting Derby plan to join Ford Street with Osmaston Road.
A link road at King Street, called Quaker Way, has also been built and opened. Lara Croft Way – the section from Abbey Street to Burton Road – was opened last year.
Construction work on Connecting Derby started in January 2009, with the first sod of earth officially being turned in April.
That followed years of planning determinations and waiting for funding, the majority of which came from the Department for Transport.
For many of the council team involved in the road's construction, along with contractors Bam Nuttall, yesterday was a momentous occasion.
Project manager Dave Power said: "This has been ten-and-a-quarter years of hard work from my team coming to fruition. To finally see it open is a big step forward for Derby."
Christine Durrant, director of planning and transportation, said: "It is quite overwhelming. I started on this when I joined the city council around 13 years ago and it is a pretty momentous day for the city.
"We have tried to develop a scheme which hopefully most people will feel some benefits from. I know it is not what everyone wanted but we have tried to work with people along the way."
Mr Barr was pleased with the results. He said: "It is great that I'm the first on the road. The section which has already opened at Stafford Street makes it much simpler to get into the city."
But some companies in the city said they felt the scheme had made business difficult.
Steve Oliver, of Cultures hair salon, in Normanton Road, suffered disruption when the road layout around the area was altered last year.
He said: "We have lost parking in the area which has made things tougher for us and I don't think it is any better for people driving in either."
Councillor Matthew Holmes, cabinet member for planning and environment, said: "This is a fantastic project which has been a long time coming and it now ensures that visitors and residents have an infrastructure fit for a city."