The long-awaited completion of the multi-million-pound Longfield Road improvement scheme was marked by the planting of a tree next to the road.
MP Greg Clark carried out the digging last Friday, accompanied by local politicians and business leaders, officially to reopen the road, one kilometre of which is now a dual carriageway, between the A21 roundabout and Dowding Way.
Mr Clark said: “This is certainly a day for celebration – sorting out the traffic nightmare of North Farm is a massive step forward.
“This project is a great example of team work between the government, Kent County Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and landowners, and I’m grateful to all of them for their efforts. It shows what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.”
In total, £7.35 million was spent on the scheme, which had been criticised for running over budget and over time.
The project was launched in response to calls from businesses and the borough council to tackle congestion blighting the retail park.
KCC developed plans to improve access, securing £3.5million government funding to enable the scheme to go ahead. Additional funding came from developers and a KCC contribution.
Original estimates for the cost were £5 million, with completion due in March. A KCC spokesman admitted to the Times last month the scheme had been delayed as utility companies were ‘failing to stick to agreed schedules’.
Matthew Balfour, KCC cabinet member for environment and transportation, said: “I’m delighted this scheme is in use – benefitting shoppers, local business and residents in Tunbridge Wells – and we would like to thank them all for bearing with us during the last year.
“Construction was very challenging because it involved working along a road that was heavily congested to start with.”