A465 Heads of the Valleys land buy-ups for £150m road widening
Land alongside the A465 Heads of the Valleys road in south Wales is to be bought by the Welsh government for £150m improvements.
Compulsory purchase orders have been published for the latest stretch of road widening between Brynmawr and Tredegar in Blaenau Gwent.
The Welsh government wants to turn the whole of the A465 road from Abergavenny to Neath into dual carriageway by 2020.
It wants to improve road safety and tackle accident blackspots.
Widening work on some sections of the A465, such as the stretch between Tredegar and Dowlais Top, has already been completed.
The latest phase will cover just under 8km (5 miles) between Brynmawr and Tredegar, next to the previous improvements west of Nant-y-Bwch.
The £150m project will replace the current three lane road with a full dual carriageway.
It will also create a 3km cycleway and a new rest area at Garn Lydan with extended parking and viewpoints for the Brecon Beacons and the Valleys regional park.
The compulsory purchase orders - which allow certain bodies to obtain land or property without the consent of the owner - covers common land, along with a handful of houses.
It will also affect land around the Rassau Industrial Estate, along with the Ambay service station forecourt and an access road to Dukestown Cemetery in Tredegar.
Councillor John Williams, who has represented the Rassau ward for 37 years, said he had had to sell his farm and land as part of the dual carriageway scheme.
"I have been dealing with this for over 10 years and they purchased and negotiated with most of the land and house owners over that time," he said.
"My land was bought out and I moved out 10 years ago. I had a farm - I was a part-time farmer with my brother. I was born and brought up there.
"I went to a meeting and heard they wanted to come though my land - it was 39 acres. It would have ruined the land.
"So I negotiated with them over five years and sold it and moved to a bungalow.
"At the time it was very sad but as you get older you realise that it would have been hard to keep up farming."
He said he thought the road widening was important as it would bring jobs to an area blighted by high unemployment.
"Most people think it will be a good thing. There's been a bit of concern, but that's mostly been about the noise from the road," he added.
Shorten travel times
The A465 is one of the busiest roads in Wales with 473 accidents reported between 2005 and 2010 along its entire length.
Following the announcement of the latest stage of the road widening scheme in July, transport minister Carl Sargeant said: "The A465 is a crucial artery of our transport network and the principal road link between west Wales and the midlands.
"Dualling the Heads of the Valleys road will help improve safety, shorten travel times for commuters and businesses and contribute to the wider regeneration of the region.
"An improved Heads of the Valleys route will also play a role in tackling poverty for the region by improving links to key sites within education, health centres and jobs."
Last October public exhibitions were held to show proposals for the £206m stage between Gilwern and Brynmawr.
Construction of the final two sections of the A465 - covering Hirwaun to Dowlais Top via the A470 - is scheduled to begin after April 2014.