PENSIONERS John and Ruby Vinall were the first to use a new congestion-busting link road – on their bicycles.
The pair waited patiently as the chairman of Countryside Properties Bicester, Lord Borwick, and county council leader Keith Mitchell cut
the ribbon to declare Vendee Drive in Bicester open.
Mr Vinall, 86, and his 76-year-old wife, from Hudson Street, cycled along the new one-mile stretch of road, now the B4030 replacing Middleton Stoney Road, which will be downgraded.
He said: “We saw it in the Oxford Mail and live just down the road, so we decided to come and see it open.”
The single carriageway road, which connects the A41 with Howes Lane, is only the third new main road to be built in the county in eight years.
Banbury’s Dukes Meadow Drive opened in 2008, and the A40 link road at Carterton in 2004.
It is hoped the new Bicester perimeter road will help to relieve traffic congestion south west of the town caused by
shoppers heading to Bicester Village, and jams in the nearby village of Chesterton.
Two new roundabouts have been built at either end of Vendee Road, and the former highway at Chesterton has been turned into footpaths and cycleways.
Lord Borwick said: “We met here in July 2010 at the opening of the site and an awful lot has changed since then in the world.
“Here there has been constant progress and this is part of a £40m planning agreement.”
Construction of the road started last spring and it was originally expected to open in spring 2013 at the earliest, or potentially 2014/15.
But after lobbying from Oxfordshire County and Cherwell district councils, Countryside Properties agreed to open it early.
Mr Mitchell said: “Big things are really staring to happen in Bicester and this new road will be a great benefit for the town both now and in the future.
“In particular I look forward to the positive impact this key transport link promises to make on some of Bicester’s well- documented traffic problems.”
The road is also believed to be the first in the country to use entirely sustainable urban drainage – Suds – a system where rain water soaks back into the ground, replenishing water tables and
preventing downstream flooding.
The road has been called Vendee Drive to celebrate Bicester’s twinning link with Canton Des Essarts, in the Vendee region of France.
Street names on the 1,593 home new Kingsmere estate by Vendee Drive, which has planning approval for schools, a hospital, sports village, hotel, pub and shops, will have a horse theme –
historically there was a racecourse at the site.
So far 1,700 trees have been planted, along with 80,000 shrubs, thicket and hedges, with grass seeded over 65,000 sq m.