The A465, the Neath to Abergavenny Trunk Road, is in Wales. The section westwards from Abergavenny is more commonly known as the Heads of the Valleys Road because it joins together the northern heads of the South Wales Valleys. Approximately following the southern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Ordnance Survey Pathfinder guide describes it as the unofficial border between rural and industrial South Wales. The A465 provides an alternative and toll-free route between England and the counties in South West Wales and to the ferries to Ireland.
The A465 runs southwest from Bromyard towards the River Lugg, from where it runs concurrently with the A4103 for a short distance before entering Hereford. After a short distance on the A49, it crosses the River Wye, the River Monnow and the border into Wales. The A465 meets the A40 trunk road in Abergavenny and continues west through the heads of the valleys region past Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Rhymney, Merthyr Tydfil, Hirwaun, Glynneath and Aberdulais.
Even before the construction of the Heads of the Valleys road began in the 1960s, there were concerns and complaints regarding the capacity and safety of a single carriageway, three-lane design. The Abergavenny–Neath trunk road opened in 1964.
Until 1996, the A465 ran for most of its length between Glynneath and Aberdulais along a narrow single carriageway road, now redesignated as the B4242. The high accident rate on this stretch was one of the factors leading to the construction of a dual carriageway between these points. Now all of the section of the A465, from Hirwaun to Llandarcy, is dual carriageway.
The highest point (signposted) of 1,350 feet (410 m) is on the Ebbw Vale section which is now dual carriageway and slip roads between Dowlais Top and Tredegar via Rhymney. At Dowlais Top there are link roads such as the A4060, which runs down to the south end of Merthyr Tydfil and links with the A470, and the A4054 which goes through Merthyr Vale and Aberfan. Another link is the A4102 which leads into Dowlais and Merthyr Tydfil town centre. The A465 passes Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and then continues to Cefn-coed-y-cymmer and the A470 link. It then continues down the floor of the Vale of Neath, bypassing Resolven, Neath and Skewen, before terminating at junction 43 of the M4 at Llandarcy.
In 1990, a regional traffic study identified the need for improvements to the A465. In 1994, alternatives were presented for Public Consultation for the improvement of the 25-mile length between Abergavenny and Hirwaun, connecting the existing A465 dual carriageway link from Swansea to the A40, which is an important part of the route to the M50. In July 1995 the then Secretary of State for Wales announced the Preferred Route. This mainly consisted of widening the existing road to provide a dual carriageway standard with grade-separated junctions (and extra climbing lanes on certain hills) between Abergavenny and Hirwaun. The design was developed and a draft Line Order was published in 1997. This was tested at Public Local Inquiry in 1998 after which the Secretary of State for Wales announced the decision to proceed with the scheme in 1999.
Much of the land on the route is undulating, but despite this, the preferred route alignment is considered to be of high standard and as such allows most of the route to have the national speed limit.
The scheme was split up into seven sections, with sections 6 and 7 later being combined into a single scheme for the purposes of construction. The First Minister has repeated on a number of occasions the promise that the dualling of the road will be complete by 2020.
|Section||From / To||Commencement date||Completion date||Status|
|1||Abergavenny to Gilwern||February 2005||May 2008||Complete|
|2||Gilwern to Brynmawr||December 2014||Due by 2018||Under construction|
|3||Brynmawr to Tredegar||January 2013||September 2015||Complete|
|4||Tredegar to Dowlais Top||March 2002||November 2004||Complete|
|5||Dowlais Top to A470||Late 2018||Due by 2020||Planned|
|6||A470 Junction to Hirwaun||Late 2018||Due by 2020||Planned|
The section between Llandarcy and Hirwaun is already dual carriageway. Construction works began on section 4 (Tredegar to Dowlais Top) in early spring 2002, and were completed by November 2004. Construction of section 1 (Abergavenny to Gilwer]) began in February 2005. This section is a largely on-line upgrade of the existing single-carriageway road. This section was completed on 22 May 2008.
The contract for Section 3 - Brynmawr to Tredegar was awarded to Carillion Plc in March 2010 with planning commencing soon after, it was announced in August 2012 that approval for the scheme to commence had been given and that construction should commence by the end of 2012 with completion due by early 2015. In keeping with the previously completed sections, a scheme website has been launched.
Planning for Section 2 - Gilwern to Brynmawr started in June 2011 and construction began in January 2015 and is expected to last until 2017. Further information can be found on the scheme's website.
The National Transport Plan, published in March 2010, expected Brynmawr to Tredegar to be completed by 2014 and Gilwern to Brynmawr started by the same date. The remaining sections from Dowlais Top to the A470, and from the A470 to Hirwaun were to be completed by 2020. Speaking in the Senedd in August 2010, the First Minister said completion of the A465 upgrade was the ultimate solution to the high number of casualties on the road.
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