A newly upgraded section of the A602 near Stevenage opened to traffic on Monday, August 7 - more than a year after completion had initially been expected.

The section, between Watton-at-Stone and Tonwell, has been realigned to smooth out sharp bends, improve visibility, and create right-turn lanes at junctions to reduce delays caused by vehicles turning off the road.

Completion was delayed after faults were found in a newly constructed bridge at the Sacombe Pound junction. That bridge is now open, with a new cycleway allowing cyclists and pedestrians to cross under the A602.

The Comet: Newly planted trees alongside the A602.Newly planted trees alongside the A602. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

The works were part of the final phase of the A602 improvement scheme that began in summer 2020, and were initially expected to be completed in early 2022.

Previously completed works in the wider A602 improvement scheme between Stevenage and Ware adapted the roundabouts at the A119 and A10 junctions, and the junctions with Anchor Lane, Westmill Road and Hertford Road.

Cllr Phil Bibby, executive member for highways and transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “The A602 is a key route between the A1(M) and the A10, as well as an important road for local traffic, so these improvements will make a real difference.

"The tight bends and traffic turning right were both causing delays, and this new section of road will help traffic flow more freely and safely.

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“As part of our commitment to sustainable, responsible growth in our county, we’re pleased to be investing in this kind of infrastructure to support Hertfordshire’s economy and meet the needs of our communities.

"I’d like to thank road users for bearing with us while we’ve been carrying out these works.”

Richard Whitehead, of Hertfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board said: “The Local Enterprise Partnership’s investment has facilitated this vital work needed to improve the safety and reliability of this persistently busy section of Hertfordshire’s highway network.

"The interventions will help future-proof the route as Hertfordshire’s population increases and its economy grows.”

Paul Gandy, chief executive officer at Tilbury Douglas, said: “The team at Tilbury Douglas are delighted to see the opening of the A602 in Hertfordshire.

"Delivering this road infrastructure project during the challenges presented by the pandemic is a testament to our capabilities.

"Our work on the A602 will bring real economic benefits and make driving in Hertfordshire safer and improve journey times.”

Landscaping work is continuing along the route, and new cycle track between Sacombe Pound and Stoney Hills, which is being constructed as part of the improvement project, is due to open next month.

The A602 improvements were delivered by Tilbury Douglas, and funded by a £20m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire LEP and funding from Hertfordshire County Council.