Strategic body Transport for the North (TfN) has confirmed that it is working on an appraisal of possible dual carriageway routes between the Lancashire town of Colne, where the M65 currently ends, and the A1(M) in Yorkshire.
Extending the motorway, which currently runs from Preston, Blackburn, Burnley and Colne in Lancashire has been described as a "game-changer" for the county by Northern Powerhouse Minister and local MP Jake Berry, the Lancashire Telegraph reports.
In a statement, John Cridland, TfN’s chairman, said: “Our work has identified options for providing dual carriageway routes from Colne (M65) to the A1(M) in Yorkshire and will complete work on an initial economic appraisal of this during the early part of 2019.
“Work is at an options assessment stage and additional work is required to consider if the project will be viable as the potential costs and benefits are more clearly identified.”
A spokeswoman for TfN declined to give any further details on the routes being considered as part of the study.
Improving transport links between the east and west of northern England was described as a priority when TfN set out its 30-year strategic vision earlier this year.
And in February Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that a feasibility study will be carried out into the potential re-opening of the Skipton-Colne railway line.
The line, which dates back to the 1840s, has been the subject of years of determined'¨efforts to bring it back into use since being closed in February 1970.
Re-opening the 12-mile route could create a faster rail link across the Pennines and lead to new passenger services between Lancashire, Skipton and Leeds.