ONE of the most significant milestone of the Heads of the Valleys road widening project between Gilwern and Brynmawr is nearing completion, contractors have said.

The project, which is in the third year of construction, forms the fourth phase of the Welsh Government proposals to dual the A465 between Abergavenny and Hirwaun.

With the geological constraints of having to widen the road through the narrow Clydach Gorge, along with the ecological and environmental constraints and challenges brought about by its status within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the current phase has been described as the "most technically challenging."

But contractors believe improved weather conditions and longer working days will help them achieve some significant milestones in the coming months.

Bruce Richards, project director for Costain said: “Perhaps the most significant milestone for the project will be the opening of the new Gateway Bridge.

"The main structures of the bridge are now in place and tower over the landscape at the western end of the project.

"We anticipate that the bridge along with the Intermediate Road footbridge, will open in late summer and we are planning a community event by engaging with local residents and in particular Brynmawr Foundation School, to mark this significant occasion."

Other milestones to be achieved in the next few months include the opening of the Glanbaiden overbridge late summer and it is likely that an extended section of the new dual carriageway between Gilwern and Glanbaiden will be complete and open to traffic in the autumn.

With Gilwern footbridge in the final stages of construction and Intermediate Road and Blackrock pedestrian bridges in situ, three further pedestrian bridges are to be installed during 2018.

Clydach and Pant Glas footbridges are due to be installed in July and August respectively.

The final crossing point, Pont Harry Isaac, which has been ‘future-proofed’ for equestrian use should bridleways be established on both access points, will be installed by the end of the year.

Transport Secretary Ken Skates said: "There are clear milestones of progress on the project and we are grateful for the continuing support we have received from the local communities and those regularly using the road with restricted conditions.

"I have no doubt the completed project will bring significant benefits to the area and provide much safer movement through a section of the A465 that has had a history of serious traffic accidents."