The £200 million project is the final piece in the infrastructure jigsaw linking the M1 and A1. Major employers based in the town and civic leaders have welcomed its completion.
The new road – eight miles of new two- and three-lane carriageway – would cut journey times, reduce congestion and improve safety, said a Bedford Borough Council spokesman. It was also a major boost to attracting inward investment to the town.
Retail giant Sainsbury’s based the distribution depot for its Tu clothing range in Bedford because of the A421 project.
Logistics director Dave King said: “The improved link road would enable us to achieve our transport operational and environment performance targets, while providing our stores and customers with a delivery service that they now demand. Another important factor was that the improved road would also benefit our colleagues travelling to and from work."
Sainsbury’s, along with Asda and Argos, have major distribution sites along the A421.
Rod Calvert (pictured), who chairs the Bedford Business Group for Bedfordshire & Luton Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a momentous occasion for all businesses present and future in Bedford.
“Bedford is poised for sustainable economic growth, fuelled by this fabulous new road which opens up the town’s economic development corridors to growth and a Unitary Borough Council with a demonstrable economic growth agenda.”
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson added: “The benefits for business in particular will be keenly felt. We’ve already got some prime locations, we’ve got a high quality workforce and now we have excellent transport routes to boot. The improvements offered by this road are phenomenal.”