Port Talbot level crossing to stay closed for station refurbishment
PORT Talbot's railway level crossing will remain closed for work to begin on the train station this autumn.
The level crossing at Oakwood Road first shut in July 2011, to allow contractors to carry out the next phase of construction of Harbour Way relief road.
Since then motorists have been using alternative routes.
Last month the £107 million dual carriageway opened, although further work still needs to be done before the official opening which will take place in mid-October.
The council's head of engineering and transport, David Griffiths, said the crossing will remain closed as work is to begin on the multi-million refurbishment of the station in November.
"The current closure for Harbour Way runs from the January 14 in 2013 for a period of 18 months," he said.
"As Harbour Way will be completed in October, it is intended to maintain the existing closure to enable the start of the Parkway station improvement's which are scheduled to commence in November this year for completion in January 2015.
"Network Rail and their contractor's will further assess the need to apply for closures of the rail crossing to allow for key elements of the station construction works to progress at the expiry of the existing order."
Last November the Welsh Government ended the long wait for Port Talbot Parkway to be given a new lease of life when it announced a Wales Station Improvement Programme grant.
The project will see the old station replaced with a striking development described as being fit for the 21st century.
It will include lift access to the platforms, a new enclosed footbridge and a 200-space car park.
Tata Steel will be providing steel for the project.
In June Aberavon AM David Rees told Port Talbot traders he had met the managing director of Network Rail in Wales to discuss the redevelopment.
"Confirmation was given that the detailed design is finished. They will be hoping to sign contracts in September and to be on-site on November 30," he said.
"The plans have come in within budget.
"It will take 14 months because it isn't a refurbishment, it's a major rebuild and the station is going to change quite dramatically."
Port Talbot councillor Dennis Keogh said he is very much looking forward to work starting on the station.
"It has been a long road," he said.
"I have been a councillor for 10 years and it was an issue back then."
He added the level crossing closure had helped with some traffic issues.
"We now don't have the queuing going right around," he said.
"But I do believe that the road layout may need to be altered slightly.
"I think we have to revise it once it has all been finished."
The campaign for the train station improvements was supported by former AM Brian Gibbons, along with MP Hywel Francis, who collected a petition of more than 2,000 signatures calling for the upgrade.