A MUM who has lived under the M4 motorway all her life says there is a massive downside.
The M4 runs on 45ft-high pillars over the Welsh town of Port Talbot – with its shadow looming over locals' back gardens.
Joanna Care lives in the house she was brought up in alongside her husband Ritchie and their four-month old daughter Evelyn.
She said: "This is where I've always lived. It's never been a negative thing for me.
"My parents remember it being built as they were living here at the time.
"Obviously, the construction company had to get my parents' permission to have it going through their garden.
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"I don't think anybody would have been particularly happy about it. The garden at one point used to go down to the river.
"Of course, you’d have them all working in the garden and when maintenance was involved, they’d have to come into the garden to do all of that.
"I actually remember men coming into the garden to do maintenance, they’d be up there in their trucks maintaining the underside and things like that."
The Port Talbot bypass – which runs for four and a half miles – was Wales' first motorway and opened in 1966.
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Known locally as "the road on top of a town", it helped cut the journey time between Swansea and Cardiff by 20 minutes.
But the futuristic-looking project came at a cost to the town itself as it saw the destruction of three chapels and more than 200 houses.
Sitting in the dining room of Joanna and Ritchie's house, you can barely hear the sound of near-constant traffic travelling along the motorway.
But when you walk through the house into the long garden, where the motorway’s pillars are located, you can hear the constant hum of traffic towering above.
Joanna says that she has grown use to the traffic noise, but for her husband Ritchie it is all that he ever hears.
As a couple, they have lived in the house for 10 years.
Whereas Joanna would spend her childhood using the shadows of the flyover as her playground, Ritchie's childhood consisted of days at the beach near Sandfields.
"I grew up on a beach, where you'd have the outdoor space to play football or go surfing," he said.
"This is a far cry from what I'm used to. Even today, I can’t get used to the motorway in regards to the sounds.
"Four o’clock every morning, the lorries start doing their jaunt and then I wake up. Whether I go back to sleep or not is a different thing.
"I just can’t get used to the noise – whether the windows are double glazed or even triple glazed, it doesn’t matter.
"I’m just used to serenity. I didn’t realise I was so sensitive to noise until I started living here."
Gabrielle Gillings lives under the motorway with her two sons, six-year-old Lennox and 21-month-old Keane.
She said: "Before here, I lived literally the other side of the bridge in Felindre.
"So I've always lived by the motorway. My parents still live on the other side, that's where I've grown up.
"I wanted to be close to home and when this house came up, I didn't feel like: 'Oh no, I can't live here because it's close to the motorway'.
"I wanted to still live in this area and I wouldn't want to move away from here.
"For me, this is just the norm and I enjoy living here. You don’t hear as much in the morning, but in the night you can still hear the traffic.
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"I think I’m just kind of used to it after living here for so long. I think if you were a new person in the area and you had never lived by a motorway before it would cause some problems.
"It could be very annoying for some, like living next to a railway. But for me and my boys, it's what we're used to."
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