DELAYS on the Grane Road are set to continue for another seven weeks while engineers dig by hand to repair a collapsed sewer.

The B62321, a key link between Guide in Blackburn and Rossendale and the M66 to Manchester, has had a lane closed near to the Duke of Wellington pub in Haslingden since late June.

Following investigations into the sewer collapse by United Utilities engineers, the temporary traffic lights at the spot are set to stay in place for at least another seven weeks.

They have discovered that the collapsed drain is 30 feet beneath the road surface.

It is so deep that workmen have been forced to use picks and shovels to work on the damaged drainpipe.

John Martin from United Utilities said: “It’s a very challenging job. The sewer pipe also runs directly under the middle of Grane Road. The dilemma we’ve faced is how we repair this pipe without completely closing Grane Road, as we appreciate this is a well-used route.”

The company has decided to construct a deep shaft on one side of Grane Road, which they will then use as a starting point to tunnel under the road by hand to expose the damaged pipe.

Network engineer Dean Oldham said: “Even with all the high tech equipment at our disposal we still get situations where it just makes sense to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

"We know lane closures are never welcome, but we’re very pleased by using this technique the road will remain open, albeit under temporary traffic management.”

The water company is aiming to have the road back open in October. Originally the work was supposed to be completed by the end of this week.