25-year bypass debate could soon be over

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The M65 motorway arrived in Colne on September 16th, 1988.

And the debate as to where all the traffic would go has raged ever since, with North Valley Road and the road through Colne town centre regularly choked with cars and lorries at peak times.

The original plan was for an eastward extension of the route through the South Valley of Colne, knocking down the listed railway viaduct, and Winewall, heading over the Moss into West Yorkshire towards Keighley.

Properties in the village were blighted for years as councillors on both sides of the Lancashire-Yorkshire boundary debated the on-off scheme.

But then traffic surveys showed most of the traffic coming off the motorway was, in fact, heading for North Yorkshire in the direction of Skipton – and so the plans for a bypass around Foulridge, Kelbrook, Earby and Thornton-in-Craven were first thought of.

The eastward extension of the motorway was laid to rest and the blight which had hung over dozens of homes was finally lifted.

The original plan was to build the road along much of the trackbed of the old Colne-Skipton railway.

But this led to more than 150 objections from environmental groups, and a public inquiry was called in 1997.

Then, later that year, Lancashire County Council announced plans for a £30 million “super highway” along a new route from the end of the motorway to the A59 at Broughton instead of on the railway track bed and the inquiry was cancelled.

But 16 years on, the bypass remains unbuilt and over the years, the scheme has moved in and out of various plans drawn up at County Hall and up and down priority lists – and now comes the latest announcement which will hopefully see the years of frustration for gridlocked motorists brought to an end.