History of Harbour Way

Harbour Way is the last stage of the construction of the Peripheral Distributor Road (PDR) for Neath Port Talbot Council.  It is a strategic road improvement, linking some key employment sites and opening up development potential along the town’s waterfront area.  It provides a catalyst to bring about a range of other proposals including Aberavon Seafront developments, Port Talbot Parkway Station, improved bus and cycle routes and other proposals within the County Borough Council’s Convergence Plan.

Harbour Way received funding from the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government; £107m in total

For full details of Stage 1 of the programme, please visit Neath Port Talbot Council website.

Click Here to view the Harbour Way road plan

To look at an artists view of what the road looks like now, watch the video below:


Harbour Way provides an attractive gateway to the town and benefits the local communities, visitors and businesses alike by attracting new investment and job opportunities for generations to come.  It also improves access to local amenities and leisure facilities within the Borough and bolster the County’s already expanding tourist economy.

Harbour Way provides:

  • Access to designated development and regeneration areas (around 210 hectares) particularly at Harbourside and the Port Talbot Docks regeneration area.
  • Improved access to Port Talbot Docks and the deep water harbour, improving the opportunities of moving freight from road to sea.
  • New job opportunities and key services through investment in physical regeneration and improvements to te regional strategic transport infrastructure.
  • A reduction to the congestion on the M4 through Port Talbot.
  • Better access to public transport, especially rail, through the inter-connectivity with the main Great Western route at Port Talbot Parkway station and the proposed park and ride facility (programmed to commence construction in 2014).
  • An improved image of Port Talbot and encourage investment.
  • A cycle route linking to the National Cycle Route Network.


Construction of Harbour Way

When work commenced, in November 2010, Harbour Way was the largest transport project supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence programme in Wales, providing a 4.5km dual carriageway link from the M4 at Junction 38 (Margam) and the docks, serving as a vital link to West Wales, the UK trunk road and motorway network and mainland Europe.

Prior to construction, nearly 2,000 reptiles were relocated along with the habitat of the rare Small Blue Butterfly.  In addition, archaeological investigation works have take place at Margam Copper Works, and the tin plate works in the vicinity of the docks.

Programme of Works:

  • February 2009 - Awarded ECI Contract
  • November 2010 - Construction phase started
  • October 2013 – Official opening of the road


Working with Stakeholders

The integrated Project Team were faced with delivering a technically challenging and sustainable project involving extensive liaison with multiple stakeholders including Tata Steel, Network Rail, Natural Resources Wales and local residents.

Tata Steel

  • Diversion of over 80 services serving the steelworks and protection of services critical to steel manufacture
  • Construction of two entrance facilities into the steelworks whilst maintaining security

Network Rail

Construction of a new 150m long bridge over the main Swansea to Paddington railway line, including;

  • The relocation of a railway signal, realignment of almost 1km of track and divertion of associated communication and power cables
  • Demolition of a bridge over the railway (which also acted as the main access into the Steelworks) during weekend night possessions in close proximity to residential properties.


The construction of Harbour Way began in earnest in January 2011 with the project team tasked with building 4.5km of road, five bridges and two entrances into Tata Steelworks.

One of the bridges is a 150m long tunnel spanning the main Swansea to Paddington railway line, which required much of the work to be carried out overnight and at weekends so as to not disrupt rail travel.  The bridge was constructed in two halves, whilst maintaining access to the steelworks via Cefn Gwrgan Bridge, which crossed the lines at the same location.

An innovative moving gantry was used during construction of the concrete abutment walls of the bridge, allowing the walls to be poured during the day without disrupting traffic.



A section of the road passed through an area that was heavily contaminated with hydrocarbons, a legacy of the historic workings and heavy industry that had been on the site for over a hundred years.

Working closely with the road designers, Arup, supply chain partners Vertase and Natural Resources Wales, all the contaminated material was remediated on site and incorporated back into the works, significantly reducing the amount of waste material taken from site.  Over 99% of material was either recycled or reused on site.  The majority of the road is built on an embankment, totalling approximately 380,000m3 of material.

The focus of this project was to reuse as much site won material as possible.  Existing structures demolished on the site were crushed and processed in accordance with WRAP protocol.  Demolition materials from other projects, including 5000m3 of material from other projects within the County Borough (including the Afan Lido) were brought to site under the control of an environmental permit.  The vast majority of fill comprised of Blast Furnace Slag from Tata Steel, a by product from the iron making progress.  Coming from within the steelworks, the haul route was short and did not impact on the local road infrastructure.  Ground Granulates Blast Furnace Slag has also been used as a cement replacement in the readymix concrete used in the project.

There was a shortfall of topsoil on the project, with the only decent material located at the eastern end of the scheme.  This was used on the verges.  On the batters, a mixture of organic materials recovered, peat, poor quality soils and sand were used.

FoamMaster was used by the surfacing contractor, Tarmac, as the base layer in the road construction.  An alternative to hot asphalt, it was laid cold and used recycled aggregates and blast furnace slag.  The surface course comprises of steel slag aggregate as an alternative to gridstone aggregates, and produced a high PSV surface.


Key Project Milestones

Septemeber 2012: Cefn Gwrgan Bridge Demolished






Cefn Gwrgan Bridge had been used at the main entrance into Tata Steelworks for over 60 years, but was demolished to make way for the new 150m long road-over-rail bridge that is now situated at the same location.

The bridge parapets were removed using buring equipment and folded back by excavators with selector grabs.  Once crash mats were laid out over the railway lines as protection, the cantilevers and the main deck of the bridge was removed using excavators with multi-tool attachments.  When more sensitive techniques were required, deck sections were cut out using wire saws and lifted with cranes.

This work was carried out overnight to ensure no distruptions to the existing rail timetable and was completed seven days ahead of schedule.

The timelapse of teh demolition is below:


August 2012: Tata Main Entrance Opened

NPT Council Leader Ali Thomas opens the new entrance

Worked reached a significant milestone for Tata employees and visitors in August 2012, with the completion of the new main entrance.

A temporary access road was constructed linking to the newly completed dual carriageway through land previously owned by Tata (known as Tipplers Siddings).

It was opened by Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Ali Thomas, several local councillors, Tata Steel management and contractors Costain.

At the time, Mr Thomas said “Harbour Way is set to bring huge economic opportunities for all of Port Talbot, so it is fitting that one of the largest employers in the area can now start to benefit from this work.  This is a major project which will benefit residents and businesses alike and I am delighted to see it taking shape alongside the new developments in Tata.

The road will enable the redevelopment of many key sites at Harbourside, and strengthen the ongoing and future regeneration of the town centre and Aberavon beachfront.”

Tata Steel’s Project Manager for the integration of Harbour Way and the Port Talbot site, Steve Jenkins, also added “The new main entrance coupled with the new General Stores, Training Academy and Visitor Centre will show Tata Steel in a totally new way and demonstrate our commitment to our workforce and the local community.  Access and egress to our site will dramatically improve with the construction of the new roadway and will support our business for many years to come.”

Costain’s Project Manager, John Skentelbery said “Reaching another milestone in our three year project shows how efficient our workforce have been, especially through recent bad weather conditions.  Keeping access open to the steel works for employees and visitors has been of paramount importance to us so they have minimal disruption to their work life.”


May 2012: Tata’s West End Gatehouse Opened

May saw the opening of the new West End entrance into Tata with brand new, state of the art gatehouses.

The location of the gatehouse was moved as part of the scheme to make way for the new dual carriage way which links to Phase 1 at the Heilbronn Way roundabout.


April 2012: European Visit to Harbour Way

European Commissioner Johannes Hahn's tour of sites in Swansea.

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Mr Johannes Hahn visited Port Talbot in April 2012 as part of his very first visit to Wales to see the progress of the scheme.

Harbour Way was the first major project to be supported by the Transport sector of the Convergence Programme in Wales.

Mr Hahn said of his visit “I was impressed to see, during my visit, the progress being made on the emblematic Harbour Way.  The road is a leading light in terms of job creation and economic regeneration, and remains a shining example of the benefits EU investments has on the lives of citizens.”


March 2012: Heilbronn Way roundabout to Afan River Bridge

One lane of the new dual carriageway (westbound) was opened to traffic in March following an official opening with Council Leader of Neath Port Talbot Ali Thomas.  At the opening, Mr Thomas said “This is a significant step forward in this major project. Harbour Way will bring huge benefits to residents and businesses in Port Talbot and heralds a new chapter in the history of the town.  It will shape the future of Port Talbot, linking key employment sites and opening up land for development along the waterfront.  It will also complement the Council’s regeneration aspirations at Aberavon seafront and Port Talbot town centre.”

The opening of this first section came after a year of many changes to the area;

  • Demolition of the remaining buildings along Dock Road.
  • Groundworks were carried out before the base of the road was laid
  • Kerbs were installed and Tarmac laid in October 2011


September 2011: Construction of new Bridge over Railway begins

After extensive ground clearance, work began on the construction of the new road-over-rail bridge next to the existing Cefn Gwrgan bridge.  The structure was completed in three sections to allow for the demolision of the existing bridge while still maintaining access into Tata for employees and visitors.

The first section was completed in February 2012 after the last beam was put in place onto of the concrete walls.  This work was carried out overnight on weekends to ensure rail travel wasn’t affected.

Watch the time lapse video of the construction below:



April 2011: Roundabout on A48 at Junction 38 M4 (Margam)









The A48 dual carriageway into Port Talbot (westbound) off the Margam junction of the M4 (J38) was reduced to one lane from April 2011 onwards to help with the ground works and site clearance needed to created the new roundabout.

Sub contractors Walters UK spent most of the year laying the base of the road, using blast furnace slag from Tata.  This cut down the number of lorries travelling through the town, reducing the carbon footprint of the project and showing our commitment to sourcing produce from local bsinesses and using as much recyclable materials as possible.

Both lanes were reopened full time in October 2013.

April 2011: Rail signal moved in first major works for the Scheme

Rail Signal Installation

The existing Swansea to London rail signal was removed in what signalle dthe first of any major works for the scheme in April 2011.

It was repositioned 100m in front of its original position to accommodate for the new 150m bridge which began construction 5 months later in September 2011.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this post...
Rating: 3.4/5 (14 votes cast)
History of Harbour Way, 3.4 out of 5 based on 14 ratings