The case for improved road links to better connect Yorkshire and Lancashire will be scrutinised in a new £300,000 study commissioned by the Government.
Highways England is expected to present its findings to Ministers by the end of the autumn after working with Transport for the North to consider the options.
Starting next month, the study will consider how major improvements can be made to road connections between the end of the M65 at Colne in East Lancashire and parts of Yorkshire such as Skipton, Keighley and Bradford.
Announcing the move, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the study part of £13bn of investment to improve transport across the North.
He said: “This study is part of our ongoing work to ensure the routes between Lancashire and Yorkshire are fit for the future, helping link communities better and boosting the economy to supercharge the Northern Powerhouse.”
Alternative routes to the M65 for trans-Pennine traffic are limited and beset with congestion.
Taking the M65 between Preston and Leeds is five miles shorter than driving via the M62 but takes 40 minutes longer.
The Government said many manufacturing industries could benefit from improved transPennine road links, to boost economic growth, jobs and housing locally and across the North, as well as relieving congestion on the M6 and M60.
Jim O’ Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “This study will look at the issues currently facing road users in the trans-Pennine corridor, the extent to which the lack of strategic connection hinders growth, and options for improving those journeys and boosting economic growth. It will also look at how improvements could be used to support other trans-Pennine routes such as the M62.”
When the study is complete, Ministers will review whether there is a case for investment.