FRESH delays have hit the project to widen part of the A465 Heads of the Valleys road in northern Monmouthshire, which is now expected to be completed “at the end of 2020”.

This is the latest setback to a project described as “an absolute nightmare” by residents and business owners in Gilwern, at the eastern end of the roadworks.

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Weekend road closures, traffic lights, and lengthy diversions are keeping shoppers and tourists away, and narrow roads in Gilwern have been turned into dangerous rat runs, residents say.

“Our standard of living is being affected,” village butcher Chris Bromfield said. He said disruption to traffic and increased air and noise pollution was “turning into a way of life”.

This is the second time the completion date for the A465 widening has been pushed back. The Welsh Government and contractors Costain announced in April work would extend into 2020, past its original 2018 target date. The project’s cost has overspilled, too, to the cost of more than £100 million.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said the A465 project was “ambitious and challenging” and though the new completion date was the end of 2020, it was expected the eastern half would be completed earlier.

She added: “We remain very grateful to those living and working in the area for their patience.”

But Monmouthshire councillor Simon Howarth, who lives in Gilwern and represents the Llanelly Hill ward, said the A465 widening had been “a total mess”.

“The inconvenience this community has put up with has been unbelievable, and now it looks like it will take another 12 months,” he said. “People are still living in misery.”

Mr Bromfield said weekend closures were causing trade on Saturdays – normally his busiest day of the week – to be cut by up to 75 per cent.

“It’s starting to take its toll on my business,” he said. “I’m not sure how long we can sustain it.”

Mr Bromfield said cars had been damaged, walls knocked down, and lorries stuck in narrow Gilwern streets used as rat runs.

Sally Curtis, who owns a narrowboat hire firm in Gilwern, said some of her returning customers were in disbelief when they saw work on the A465 was ongoing.

She said: “They say: ‘Is that not finished yet?’

“A lot of locals just feel like they’ll believe it when they see it – it’s been pushed back so many times. We just don’t know what to believe.”