Paving installed to help visually impaired people safely cross the road

Published Monday, 01 March 2021

Innovative paving has been installed in Coventry city centre for the first time to help blind and visually impaired pedestrians safely cross a new road.

An aerial view of the new Western Link Road near Coventry Railway Station.
An aerial view of the new Western Link Road near Coventry Railway Station.

Crossing points on a new two-way road between Westminster Road and the slip road at J6 at the A4053 Ring Road will feature the Tac-Grid system which has an embedded live beacon within the tactile paving.

This free app (https://livebeacon.com/) talks to pedestrians via Bluetooth advising when they approach a crossing point, its type and advises where to cross to aid impaired users. The units can be configured to give additional information such as where the push button is in relation to a controlled crossing. The beacons will be extended to other parts of the city to aid visitors’ experience during the UK City of Culture, giving them information of key locations.

The work of the new Western Link Road, which opened today (Monday, March 1), was carried out by Coventry City Council’s Direct Labour Organisation, and has also included improvements to footpaths, landscaping and tree planting.

The new road is part of a £500,000-scheme funded by the Government through the Local Growth Fund from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The work for the new road, the slip road, Grosvenor Road, and most of Westminster Road has required approximately 2,800m3 of earthworks, 150m of new kerbs and drainage improvements, and new footway and carriageway surfacing that cover the equivalent of 17 tennis courts.

The left turn into Grosvenor Road from the Ring Road slip road will close, meaning access will be possible from Westminster Road which will become two-way with a turning point for vehicles.

Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to access the city centre through the Grosvenor Road subway with the ramps and steps remaining.

The new two-way road has been created to support the development of the western side of the Friargate Masterplan to provide better connectivity to residential and commercial development.

And it is part of the wider highway improvements programme being delivered as part of the £82 million-Coventry Station Masterplan, which aims to improve public transport and infrastructure.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council and a board director at the CWLEP, said: “Our work at the railway station to create a new car park, footbridge and transport interchange is really taking shape and the completion of this new road is another important step forward. 

“This new road will support bus operations and better links to the transport interchange in future phases of development. I’m also really pleased that we were able to include a simple addition that will make it easier for people with a visual impairment to cross safely.”

Nick Abell, chair of the CWLEP, added: “It is great that the funding has been able to pave the way for the new Western Link Road which will help to alleviate congestion at a busy location in Coventry city centre.

“All these improvements to the city’s infrastructure will help to bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Coventry which is particularly important as we head towards UK City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”

Coventry City Council