NEWS that work on the five mile stretch of the A465 between Gilwern and Brynmawr will cost £100m more than expected and take two years longer to complete was met with a mix of annoyance and knowing acceptance by local residents.

An audit report by the Auditor General for Wales released today said that full “completion is now expected to run into 2021,” despite the original date being September 2018.

It also said the work will cost the public purse around £100 million more than estimated. It is set to cost £321.1 million, with the original estimate being £223.2 million.

Phil Wright, from Nantyglo, said he felt “frustrated”.

“How am I expected to feel? It’s a shambles.

“It should’ve been done a long time ago.

“It can take up to three quarters of an hour to get to Abergavenny. It’s a nightmare.”

Mark Stephens, who runs Classic Fishbar in Brynmawr, said: “My personal feelings? I expected it.

“It was obviously going to overrun, as for the overspend, I think that’s inevitable.

“How can you price a job of that extent?

“It is a great inconvenience.”

South Wales Argus: Mark Stephens, who runs Classic Fishbar Brynmawr.Mark Stephens, who runs Classic Fishbar Brynmawr.

Road closures while work is ongoing has meant congested traffic around Brynmawr, Gilwern and Abergavenny.

“Obviously, it is affecting trade because people have difficulty getting in and out of Brynmawr,” Mr Stephens added.

“The Heads of Valley is gridlocked most days.

“Between 7am and 12pm, you are going to get stuck, so it is obviously going to put people off coming in.”

A shop assistant in Brynmawr, who wanted to remain anonymous, says the congestion has repeatedly made her “late for work”.

“I can be stuck because of the tailbacks.

“You can be stuck on the road from Abertillery to Brynmawr for quite a while. Something is always shut.”


But Mostyn Moore, who used to work in the traffic CCTV department for Costain Ltd – the main contractor for the development – said the problems are exacerbated by reckless driving.

“In traffic management, they have tried their hardest.”

But people who cause accidents make traffic in the surrounding areas even more pronounced.

“You can’t believe the things people do: overtaking, texting on their phone.

“People make the affects worse.”

Section two of the A465 Heads of the Valleys road will see a three-lane road stretching from Gilwen to Brynmawr turned into a dual carriageway.

It involves building on a steep-sided valley – the Clydach Gorge – and passes through the Brecon Beacons National Park.

It is the second phase in a six-part scheme to improve 40km of the A465 between Hirwuan and Abergavenny, which is expected to cost £1 billion overall.

Brynmawr councillor Wayne Hodgins said the “main issue is congestion”.

“It seems to be taking a long time and every time people pass it, they don’t see much work going on," he said.

South Wales Argus: Blaenau Gwent county councillor Wayne Hodgins (Independent, Brynmawr ward).Blaenau Gwent county councillor Wayne Hodgins (Independent, Brynmawr ward).

However, Cllr Hodgins said his “biggest concern” will be a planned diversion for March which will see people bypass Brynmawr.

“We are finding that residents are putting up with inconvenience but now they have been asked to put up with further inconvenience. For us as councillors, that is unacceptable.

“There will be gridlock.”

And he said it could stop people coming into the town.

“This could be the final coffin for the town.

“Once people stop coming into towns, it is very hard to get them to come back.”

There is a public meeting being held at Brynmawr Rugby Club on Monday, February 24 from 6.30pm for those wanting to understand the new road layout to be implemented in March.