Plans for a bypass in Newtown were first talked about over 70 years ago and on Thursday afternoon, I was excited to be one of the first people to drive along this much anticipated roadway for the first time.
This large scale project, one of the biggest in Wales, had been a quite a challenge; building four underpasses, three bridges and importing 350,000 tonnes of stone, but Alun Griffiths Contractors delivered the 95 Million pound road ahead of schedule and to an incredibly high standard.
I was delighted to be present, alongside fellow Labour colleagues, to watch Economy Minister Ken Skates unveil a commemorative plaque and to cut the ribbon during a ceremony on the bypass, after being given a tour of the impressive new road and its surrounding landscapes.
This significant development will reduce the volume of traffic passing through the town, lead to shorter journey times and improve air quality in the area, which in-turn will strengthen the local economy by making it easier and better for people to access jobs and services.
Businesses will benefit as the new route makes it simpler to import and export goods and it will undoubtedly provide improved links to tourist destinations which will be a great boost for our industry in the region.
A strong emphasis was placed on investing in Welsh businesses during the road’s construction, as a whopping £46.8 million pounds were spent on using goods and services from Welsh based companies and as the former Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for skills, I was particularly impressed with the role that apprentices and graduate trainees had in the construction of the bypass.
Over £10.7 million of investment went into local employment and training opportunities in partnership with Coleg Powys and the Skills Academy, which resulted in 18 apprentices and graduate trainees gaining valuable skills and experience – I was delighted to visit the project on many occasions where I saw first hand the incredible work that these young people did.
It’s also fantastic to see such a positive level of community engagement resulting from this scheme with a number of projects being delivered ranging from charity fundraisers to educational link programmes and school visits – this project has had a real local element to it.
The new bypass is an absolutely fantastic example of how Welsh Government investment and commitment is delivering for the benefit of residents in Mid Wales and I’d like to congratulate Alun Griffiths and everyone involved on delivering this excellent feat of engineering.
This is the difference a Labour Government can make in Wales.