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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Byron Bay bypass project given $10.5m funding

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(l-r) Deputy premier Andrew Stoner with roads minister Duncan Gay, Ballina MP Don Page and Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo supplied
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Luis Feliu

The state government has announced $10.5 million in funding for a long-awaited-bypass of Byron Bay’s CBD so detailed design work can start immediately.

But the surprise announcement made in Byron Bay today (Thursday) by acting premier Andrew Stoner, roads minister Duncan Gay and Ballina MP Don Page has already met with a mixed reception.

Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson thanked the government for the ‘once in a generation’ funding and for ‘stepping up and supporting our town’.

In contrast, a residents group has labelled the funding a ‘waste of millions for a road less travelled’ and ‘a down payment on allowing the overdevelopment of our town’.

The bypass will run from the Shirley Street roundabout along Butler Street and connect to the southern end of Jonson Street via a new rail crossing and intersection at Browning Street near the Mitre 10 store.

Years of increasing traffic congestion along Ewingsdale Road into Byron Bay made the lack of a bypass a major issue for townsfolk and civic leaders sick of the traffic jams almost every day, not just during holidays and at peak hours.

No time frame has been set but but Mr Gay told media his department and council aimed to finalise plans for council’s preferred route before the end of the year.

Cr Richardson acknowledged the bypass won’t solve all of Byron Bay’s traffic problems with only one main road in and out at its northern end, but said it was ‘a crucial component to help relieve some of the traffic pain our locals endure on a regular basis’.

He said the bypass would ‘also help those who work in industrial estate and Suffolk Park plus the police and emergency services move more freely across town’.

Byron Residents’ Group spokesperson Cate Coorey said the bypass was ‘all about getting the West Byron and other large developments through by supposedly “solving” the major obstacle to development on Ewingsdale Road — the traffic nightmare’.

Of the $10.5 million in the new funding, $500,000 will go into design work including ecological and flood assessments, noise, stormwater, landscaping, pedestrian and cycling access, lighting, rail crossing and intersection plans.

A week ago, Byron Shire Council appointed a consultant to do an environmental impact study (EIS) and detailed design for the bypass.

Ms Coorey said that ‘earlier this year when council announced, without any community consultation, that it would run a bypass along Butler Street we were very alarmed, not least because everyone knows that the bypass will not alleviate traffic problems and because such an important decision required a great deal more thought and input’.

‘This bypass is the true “road less travelled” as it is not going to be used by most people coming into Byron. Only 10 per cent of the traffic using Ewingsdale Road is through traffic that is likely to use the bypass,’ she said.

‘All the studies that have been done have shown that this bypass is merely a band-aid on a gaping wound. Everybody knows this bypass will have almost no impact, not least because as soon as the hospital and new developments at Sunrise and Ewingsdale are built, any advantage gained by a bypass would be lost.

‘If the mega-development at West Byron was to go ahead, we’d have a bigger traffic nightmare.

‘Don Page has always said that he would not support the development of the mega-suburb at West Byron unless the bypass was sorted out.

‘Now he has got the cash from roads minister Duncan Gay for a useless bypass, he and council probably believe they can gleefully hand over control of this town to billionaire property developers as it is clear the community has had no say in this,’ Ms Coorey said.

Cr Richardson said that Byron Bay, as a small town with 10,000 people and one of the most visited places in Australia behind Sydney and Melbourne ‘clearly cannot work alone or undertake an infrastructure project of this size without financial support from the state’.

Ms Coorey said that three years ago, council management had dismissed the bypass proposal.

She pointed Echonetdaily to a council press release in which council’s engineering chief Phil Holloway said a study had shown ‘Byron Bay town is the destination for most vehicles and therefore improved access to, and traffic distribution within the town centre, is required. Not a bypass of it’.

In the release, Mr Holloway said ‘a true bypass would serve a minority of travellers and is hard to justify in terms of cost-to-benefit and attracting the necessary approvals and funding’.


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17 COMMENTS

  1. Here we go with the first step to overdeveloping the town, another nail in the Byron Bay coffin. Here’s a question on the West Byron development, is it need or is it greed? The same goes for Robert Badalotti’s proposed Gold Coast style shopping complex, is it greed or is it need? The money should be spent of repairing the existing roads.

  2. If you cannot get through the Jonson St and Lawson St roundabout and it banks up through the Shirley St & Butler St roundabout you cannot access the “bypass”.

    99% waste of effort and money.

    • 100% correct Greg. I can’t believe they’re going ahead with this.

      You can’t use the bypass if you’re out at Ozigos with 500 cars in front of you.

  3. Great news. No doubt the town winger’s will be out in force. The same dudes that were putting fliers in my mail box protesting against the IGA being built. Put the bypass in quickly.

    • John, as someone who has spent many hours stuck in the Ewingsdale Rd traffic jam I would love to see Byron Bay’s traffic problems fixed, but this plan WILL NOT WORK. It will be a tragedy for the town if we spend $10M on a white elephant because the NSW government won’t be funding anything else in the future.

  4. The Butler Street bypass is just one way to thin out the traffic into central Byron

    Avoiding the Johnson Street/Lawson Street roundabout would help traffic to flow.

    Therefore:
    Divert foreshore traffic east through the current carpark on Lawson St next to the rail line
    Allow two lanes to travel straight ahead at the Johnson St roundabout

  5. A low cost alternative pedestrian plan on the corner of Lawson St and Johnson St would be far more cost effective in the CBD to alleviate the Ewingsdale Rd traffic issue, in combination with a no parking zone on Johnson St between Lawson St and Byron St
    There you have it…and no rediculous Consultancy fee for a flowery 120 page report…on me!

  6. An election due in a few months and the LNP after wasting years in office, announce a project they have no intention of ever building?
    Can anyone name anything the LNP have ever planed funded and built anywhere ever?
    Next election give the LNP the LNP, “Last Number Position” on the ballot paper, they deserve it!

  7. ..so all that traffic on Ewingsdale road will continue to meet at the one Shirley street roundabout… stupid, incredibly stupid.

  8. Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
    for your lorryloads pumping petrol gas.
    and you make them long, and you make them tough.
    but they just go on and on,
    and it seems you can’t get off.
    Oh, i know we’ve come a long way,
    we’re changin’ day to day,
    but tell me,
    where do the children play?
    Cat Stevens

  9. This is NOT going to stop the bank up of traffic coming into town…for the bypass to work in that regard it would have to go across country before you get to the BP Ozigo. I cannot believe the polies and engineers can’t see that!! it will be a gross waste of money…

  10. This will just move the congestion to another point in the town .
    Besides there is already a Byron Bypass it’s called the Pacific hwy
    Better to fix St Helena rd to split the south byron traffic from the rest.
    Until there is effective public transport or a park and ride or restricted traffic permitted ,Byron traffic will always get busier no matter how many roads are built. Any city is testimony to this fact

    • I too have thought St Helena Rd would make a far better route for a bypass, by the map it looks like the sensible route to take. It would bypass the the whole of Ewingsdale Road, have amazing views, alleviate the traffic problems of Bangalow by the people and trucks who use Bangalow as the unofficial Byron bay bypass now.

      Only problem I can see is the getting the road up and over the new highway tunnel.

  11. If people want to bypass Byron, they would go on the hwy, Most people come into town because they come into town, It is obvious; move into the 21st century. Use the rail line. Mullum to Byron- a frequented journey [that can be quicker by rail] can be shared with Elements services and extended into Bangalow. Most of Byron is walkable from the line, Support locals in designing truly innovative solar/battery/regen/biofuel hybrid railcars, sustainably develop away from the coastline along the railway line and lower our carbon emissions. There are plenty of people who would use it if it was priced as cheaply as Sydney’s services….Simple!

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