THE government will today announce a major study into building a Colne bypass and improving trans-Pennine road links.

It will be made by Highways England which is in charge of major roads.

Any new road would deal with traffic coming off the M65 from Burnley, Blackburn and Preston.

The new study will look at the feasibility and cost of a new bypass and prepare outline plans. It will also examine improving links from the M65 and Colne beyond the bypass and over the Pennines.

For the first time it will examine not just using the A56 to Skipton but look at the A6068 Crosshills Road to Keighley as an option for an improved East Lancashire-Yorkshire link.

Revealing the study to the Lancashire Telegraph, a senior government source said the scheme was a vital first step to allow any re-opening of the Colne to Skipton railway line as the very busy Vivary Way currently poses an obstacle to extending the track east from the railway station.

Previous studies into a bypass undertaken by Lancashire County Council have concentrated on linking with the A56 Skipton Road through Earby.

In January Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited Colne to reveal a study into to whether reopening the railway line to Skipton was commercially viable after it had been deemed ‘technically feasible’ by experts and backed resurrecting plans for a a bypass for the town shelved in 2014.

The senior government source said: “Highways England is announcing a major new study into a Colne bypass to look into its feasibility and produce outline plans.

“It will also look at wider trans-Pennine options including the A56 to Skipton but concentrating on the A6068 to Keighley as a possible improved new route from Lancashire to Yorkshire.

“The bypass is essential for any extension of the Skipton line from Colne railway station as the A6068 Vivary Way cuts directly across the route.A new road would make it easier to reopen the line. Mr Grayling is pleased that Highways England is conducting this study.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I am delighted we now have a fully-funded study into a new Colne bypass by the Highways Agency to go with the one by Transport for the North into reopening the rail line to Skipton.

“Finally, after many years of delay, the needs of Colne, Pendle and the rest of East Lancashire are being listened to in Whitehall.”

The study will not look at extending the M65 motorway, the source said.