A NEW era will be ushered in for Mid Wales today, February 14, with Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates due to cut the ribbon on Newtown’s new bypass – paving the way forward for what is hoped will be a new wave of regeneration in the region.

See latest: Report and pictures as Newtown's new bypass is opened for the first time

Construction of the £90 million bypass project began in February 2016 and traffic will be allowed to travel on the road for the first time from around 1.30pm following the official opening, set to take place at an invitation-only event in the morning.

Mr Skates said the bypass had been delivered “ahead of schedule and to the very highest standard”.

“The scheme improves north-south and east-west links and will provide a real step change in how people travel in the area as well as to and beyond Newtown,” he said.

“The amount of traffic passing through the town will reduce as a result of the development leading to shorter journey times and improved air quality.

“The new bypass will strengthen the local economy by making it easier and better for people to access jobs and services and businesses will benefit too as the new route makes it simpler to import and export goods. It also provides improved links to tourist destinations which will be a boost for the industry.

“The Newtown Bypass is an absolutely fantastic example of how Welsh Government investment and commitment is delivering for the benefit of residents in Mid Wales.”

The Welsh Government says the Newtown Bypass will ease traffic congestion through the town centre by between 40 and 50 per cent as well as removing the need for large high sided heavy goods and agricultural vehicles from travelling through nearby residential areas.

Meanwhile Montgomeryshire AM Russell George says the improved transport links have the potential to “transform” local economies in Mid Wales.

“I think it’s going to be a very positive thing for the towns of Machynlleth, Llanidloes, Welshpool and Aberystwyth,” he said.

“I believe Newtown businesses will see an increase in footfall as people from around the surrounding villages in the area who have been put off coming into town in the past are able to come into the town centre.”

However he warned of the need for a period of continued patience as planned utility works on the existing Pool Road as well as a ‘de-trunking’ operation were also likely to cause delays for people heading into Newtown.

“People are going to have to be patient as there may be an expectation that just because the bypass is open that’s the end of the work. The utility companies have sensibly held off on some work (on Pool Road) to allow the completion of the bypass and there will need to be a co-ordinated approach to getting these works done.

“There will be a lot of work to be done and there’s likely to be works going on for some time,” he added.