A new bypass campaign, ‘Grab the Rail’, has been launched by residents outraged that private enterprise and the state government intend to route Byron’s bypass along an historic residential precinct.
Should this route go unchallenged, Butler Street will experience a 2,300 per cent increase in traffic, said Grab the Rail’s Paul Anthony Jones.
‘The bypass could potentially make it one of the most dangerous suburban streets in Australia. Adding insult to injury, no social, urban, acoustic, heritage or air quality studies have been undertaken,’ said Mr Jones. ‘Neither have impact-mitigation measures been suggested – or are even possible given the existing built-up narrow road reserve.’
Grab The Rail supporters number around 46, he says, and will be meeting on January 19 at The Brewery from 3.30pm prior to making a formal submission on the West Byron project.
‘Grab The Rail was set up because it is a wider issue than just our neighbourhood, affecting the whole township.’
Instead of the bypass, the group proposes using a section of the old railway within town – from the Caltex station to the Roadhouse Cafe on Bangalow Road.
‘This part of the rail is perfectly positioned for a bypass and it’s wide enough for everyone – cars, buses, light rail, cyclists and walkers,’ said Mr Jones.
A railway corridor bypass is far greener, cheaper and less disruptive than the Butler Street route, he said. ‘The rail route makes perfect sense every way you look at it. It’s a low-impact traffic solution that would neatly avoid the Shirley Street bottleneck, give easy access to town from both directions, and whisk people and vehicles from one end of Byron to the other without further congesting town and Bangalow Road.
‘A well-designed shared transport route would be a great asset that could be achieved with minimum social, cultural, environmental and economic impact,’ said Jones. ‘The rail corridor is quite wide – to almost 100m in places, within the town confines.
‘There is plenty of scope for a shared transit way to allow for any future light rail and we would not impact at all on a proposal for a shuttle north, to say North Byron Resort or the Bluesfest site.
‘The rail trail as well would easily be accommodated including cycleway.’