A decade-long project on the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road is coming to a close.

The vast upgrade of the 8km A465 between Gilwern and Brynmawr, named Section 2, is reaching its final stages despite critical engineering challenges.

The work forms part of a massive upgrade to 40km of the A465.

The scheme has already delivered certain benefits.

Preliminary road safety data has indicated a decline in road traffic accidents, and a construction training academy was created as part of the project.

Furthermore, it has garnered accolades for construction brilliance, societal engagement, and habitat preservation.

However, a state of uncertainty continues to ensue between Welsh Government and Costain over the complete status of the project.

Costain advocates that a completion certificate should be provided under the construction contract seeing as the upgraded Section 2 is operational.

Nonetheless, the Welsh Government has opposed this stance as some construction activity is still ongoing.

The Auditor General, Adrian Crompton, said: "The A465 is an important part of Wales’s transport network, but the work to improve this section has been difficult for the parties involved and for the local communities affected.

"Although expected costs to the public purse have been largely contained since my interim report in 2020, the overall story of the project is one of significant cost increases and delays.

"It remains vital that the Welsh Government applies lessons from this project as it delivers future schemes, and one test of that will be the impact of changes already made to its contracting arrangements."

The upgraded Section 2 opened to traffic around November 2021, with problematic negotiations to address defects and establish the remaining construction works.

However, the project is still not officially completed.

Moreover, the lengthy project period has prompted nuisances, with locals, commuters and businesses reeling from the diversion of traffic caused by road closures.

Overall, the cost to the public purse is projected to be approximately £327 million by Welsh Government.

The figure rose slightly since an interim report in February 2020 and is vastly above initial projections, indicating a 46 per cent (£103.5 million) rise from the initial forecast when the construction began.

Notwithstanding, financial risks are considerably diminished, given the proximity to project completion.

The Welsh Government assures that the current prediction remains aligned with the adjusted £336 million budget approved back in March 2019.

Finally, the Welsh Government stated lessons are being integrated into future projects, with revisions to its construction contracts and performance indicators being considered.

However, the government still needs to compile a comprehensive report on the project’s benefit before it can fully close this chapter.