THE future of traffic congestion in Colne will be decided in an investigation beginning in the next few weeks.
The £100,000 study will look at extending the M65 into Yorkshire, probably over the old Colne to Skipton railway line.
But carrying out the work has already been ruled out, at least until after 2014, because it would cost too much.
The study itself is already controversial, with Pendle and County councillors divided as to its merit. It is expected to take around nine months to complete, and was supposed to have started last month.
The study will cover from Junction 13 to Yorkshire boundaries in both the north and west; the main roads being assessed are the A56 and A6068.
Conservative Coun. George Askew said: “The purpose of this study is to identify and assess whether there are smaller scale interventions that could be introduced to reduce traffic through Colne that are affordable and deliverable in advance of any bypass, but we’ll also review the approved A56 Villages Bypass scheme and potential alternatives.”
It is more than ten years ago that county council planners, in the Local Transport Plan for Lancashire (2001 -2006), admitted that ending the motorway at Vivary Way causes severe problems in Colne and that heavy wagons on the main A56 from Colne caused environmental problems in Foulridge and Earby.
Their solution at that time was for a village bypass, an idea that had the backing of both Lancashire and Yorkshire county councils. The proposed bypass route followed the old railway track bed. Campaigners fighting for the reinstatement of the Colne-Skipton railway line argue that the area desperately needs better rail links, and that it should be used to re establish the area with Skipton and rail links with the rest of the UK.
Previous solutions mooted locally have included running both road and rail links side by side.
Pendle’s own Replacement Local Plan, looking as far ahead of 2016, points out that government Regional Spatial Strategy for the North-West identifies the A56 north-east from the M65 at Colne to North Yorkshire as a route of regional significance.
The strategy document also says that priority should be given to investment in the maintenance, management and selective improvement of regionally significant highway routes, and to provide relief for communities badly affected by heavy flows of through traffic. It also says accessibility is vital for attracting inward investment and creating attractive and viable town centres.