HOPES that the M65 could be widened have risen after a Government official promised an announcement to expand on a big funding boost for road schemes across the North.

The Department for Transport has already revealed an allocation of more than £100million as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.

That is part of a £400million funding boost for transport infrastructure, with £300million earmarked for accelerating plans for faster rail services between Liverpool and Manchester and over to Yorkshire.

Thirty-three road projects are in line for improvement in the Northern Powerhouse project, with 13 in the North West, 10 in Yorkshire and another 10 in the North East.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are not in a position to talk about individual schemes at the moment. However, there will be an announcement on this in the near future.”

There have been persistent concerns that parts of the M65 are a ‘bottleneck’ for motorists.

Frustrated drivers have called for the motorway to be extended to three lanes between the M61 interchange and Junction 6 at Whitebirk.

In October 2013, widening the M65 to three lanes from the M61 at Clayton Brook to Blackburn was promised as part of an ambitious strategy to improve transport links into East Lancashire.

Those proposals, involving spending an initial £150million over 10 years, could also see the construction of a Whinney Hill link road in Hyndburn by 2021 and upgrading of the M65/A59 gateway between the Ribble Valley and the rest of the county.

Borough council leaders in Blackburn with Darwen and their counterparts at Lancashire County Council commissioned the work, in conjunction with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

A county council spokesman said: “We’re expecting an announcement from the Department for Transport shortly about the results of funding bids to the National Productivity Investment Fund for improvements to local roads.

“However we’re not aware of any imminent announcements about the strategic road network of motorways and trunk roads managed by Highways England, which includes the M65.”

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, meanwhile, continues to campaign to extend the M65 across the Pennines to link with the A1.