The Government has agreed to fund studies into whether it should upgrade the A69 and A66.
It will examine whether the roads should be turned into dual carriageway along their full lengths, linking the M6 in Cumbria with the A1 in the North East.
Engineering consultancy WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff has secured a £500,000 contract to examine the case for upgrading the trans-Pennine routes.
The study will form part of the Government’s road investment strategy and has been commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North.
Nigel Edwards, divisional director of strategic planning at Highways England, said: “A new dual carriageway, providing a direct link between Cumbria and the north east, would mean businesses would no longer have to rely solely on the M62 to travel quickly between the two regions.”
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said the plans were part of a long-term commitment to improving roads throughout northern England.
He said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing a record £13 billion in transport infrastructure in the north, meaning more jobs and opportunities for people.
Our investment is helping create a northern powerhouse and ensuring hardworking people up and down the country feel the benefits of economic growth.”