Let’s put aside all of the emotive and environmental arguments about the bypass and consider just two pieces of evidence which should form the foundation for the debate.
The first evidence is the results from the traffic survey conducted by Jacobs, consultants for the bypass.
In the past 10 years there has been no increase in the traffic travelling beyond Colne to Skipton or Laneshaw Bridge. There has, however, been a 13% increase in traffic at the end of the M65. This tells us that traffic is not passing through Colne on its way elsewhere; Colne is the destination for the traffic heading to the retail outlets constructed over the past 10 years.
£35m is a lot of money for a road which the evidence shows is unnecessary.
The second piece of evidence is actually a piece of evidence which is missing. The decision of the borough council and county council to consider only the brown and blue routes is predicated on the idea the red route should be rejected as it prevents the reopening of the railway line. Until an economic viability study has been conducted to determine if anyone will use this line and it will be profitable after construction costs, it should not be discounted.
It is the cheapest option, it is the option which has least environmental impact and follows an existing transport route. There is a third factor for consideration and this is the engineering implications of not using the red route.
There is a 45ft. climb which the road will have to take to reach the new roundabout opposite the Masala Rooms. This means the bypass is likely to be in the form of a 45ft. high flyover over Foulridge Wharf to meet regulations for minimum height of roads going over railway lines. Should the railway line ever be constructed it will have to connect to Colne Station. Currently the line comes out opposite Matalan. North Valley Road would also have to be rebuilt as a flyover to clear the railway line. By this point we are talking about developments in the 100s of millions of pounds.
This takes us back to the very first point: none of the council’s evidence suggests a bypass is even necessary. Is the traffic in Colne any different to rush hour congestion in any of our towns and cities? Maybe the council can install an intelligent traffic light system in place within six months for tens of thousands of pounds instead of the many millions required for a bypass and an economically unviable railway line.