THE PROJECT to widen the A465 Heads of the Valleys road will cost the public around £100 million more than initially expected, according to a new report.

Contractors Costain began work to widen the eight-kilometre stretch of road between Gilwern and Brynmawr in 2014, initially scheduling it for completion in September 2018 on a budget of £220 million.

But work fell behind schedule, with the estimated completion date being pushed back to 2019, and then again to 2020.

And a legal dispute between the Welsh Government and Costain set the project back further, with it now expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.

During this time, the expected cost of this section of the project rose to a total bill of around £321.1 million.

Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates said: “I am obviously very disappointed by this further delay and have asked the project team to continue to explore what can be done to bring forward these programmed dates.

“However, the scheme budget remains in line with my April statement, with no further increase despite this latest delay.”


A report issued by the Auditor General for Wales has shone a light on the spiralling costs of the project, with the cost to improve the full 40kms of the A465 between Hirwaun and Abergavenny expected to be around £1 billion.

The report says some of the increase relates to design changes requested by the Welsh Government and additional measures to address environmental impacts, but the engineering and contractual challenges experienced on the project account for most of it.

The Welsh Government have accepted liability for additional costs of around £97.2 million for the project between Gilwern and Brynmawr, according to the report.

Auditor General for Wales Adrian Crompton said: “This is not the first time that the Welsh Government has faced difficulties with significant cost increases and delays on road projects and it is vital that lessons are learnt for future infrastructure schemes.

“Despite some wider benefits being delivered and expectations about the eventual impact of the road improvement, those living and working locally are paying a higher than expected price for the ongoing delays and disruption during construction.”

The chairman of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay AM, said: “It is no secret that the A465 Section Two project is substantially over budget and behind schedule and it is clear that the construction work has had a significant impact on the local community.

“The report provides a useful summary of issues that have affected project delivery and that have been at the heart of the contractual dispute about the liability for certain costs.

“While the end of the project is now in closer sight, the final cost to the public purse remains uncertain.

“The Public Accounts Committee will be considering the Auditor General’s findings shortly.”

The report does highlight the positive impact of the project, including providing employment opportunities and contracting Welsh firms.

“It is worth remembering that over 65 per cent of the project spend to date has been with Welsh companies, that 74 per cent of the workforce are from Wales and that, 270 new jobs have been created and 69 new apprentices trained," said Mr Skates.

“Once complete, the project will improve access to key public services and jobs and complete a dual carriageway between the English midlands and the Heads of the Valleys, including the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone.”

However, the disruption and delays have been substantially greater than expected at the start of construction and has raised complaints from drivers and the local community.

By the end of November 2019, this had included 57 weekend closures and a further 75 weekday overnight closures.