A MAJOR road-widening scheme to cut traffic jams into Blackburn and its hospital is set to take a big step forward tonight.

Senior councillors will finalise the £11.5million cost, a 12-month timetable for the upgrade of Haslingden Road and a bid for the cash to undertake the scheme.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ruling executive board is recommended to confirm the appointment of The Casey Group as main contractor for the works to take place between April this year and April 2021.

It is also asked to approve a bid for £9m to the Lancashire Enterprise Board and the spending of £2.5m of the borough’s own money.

The upgrade will see a busy stretch of Haslingden Road doubled to two lanes each way to speed up the main route to M65 Junction 5 and the Grane Road. There will be improvements to the roundabouts serving Royal Blackburn Hospital and Shadsworth Road.

It includes a new highway linking Blackamoor Road with Roman Road opening up land for 650 new homes and 65,000 square metres of light industrial development. The existing junction between the two roads will be closed.

Cllr Phil Riley, borough development boss, said: “This is one of the final steps to take before this important work starts. Obviously, there is going to be some disruption as this is a big piece of work and I understand that this may be frustrating but it is essential that it is carried out.

“These works are essential for future growth of the borough, in jobs, business investment, housing developments and a better experience for road users. It is impossible to make changes on this scale without causing some disturbances but we will be working hard to minimise these as much as possible, including working off peak as much as we can.

“This project will transform these areas and will make traffic flow much better.”

Cllr John Slater, leader of the council Conservative group, said: “We are happy with the scheme provided that contingency plans are in place to stop all the affected traffic using the A666. It needs to be done in structured stages to prevent congestion elsewhere.”

Amendments to the scheme since it was announced a year ago include: retaining parking bays in front of the Fancy Row cottages; extending solid islands for easier pedestrian crossing across Haslingden Road; creating additional parking at the front of Roman Road “cottage” properties south of Newfield Drive with a new lay-by area.