Byron Shire Council today released its Byron Bay Bypass Preferred Route Report (PRR), which reviews all of the bypass alignments that have been considered over the past two decades.
The report concludes that the council’s controversial preferred route, utilising Butler Street, should go ahead. It adds that constraints on the rail reserve make that alternative unviable.
The PRR was required prior to council embarking on an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
The PRR detailed the history of the project and compared the 2001 EIS recommended alignment to the current planned alignment and considered the benefits and constraints of each. It looked at possible alignments along Butler, Byron and Wentworth streets.
Byron Shire Council’s director of infrastructure services, Phil Holloway, said the preferred route remained council’s current plan, which would see the bypass start at the Shirley Street roundabout (near the police station), taking in Butler Street to the southern end of the existing road, and building a new road within the road reserve.
A new rail crossing would also be required to connect the Butler Street road reserve to the southern end of Jonson Street (east of the rail line) and create a new intersection at Browning Street (near Mitre 10), most likely with a roundabout at the intersection.
Problems with rail corridor
Mr Holloway said the PRR included a desktop review of all previous bypass studies and listened to residents who have been advocating for the use of the rail corridor as an alternative option.
‘As is detailed within the report, the existing Butler Street route is the preferred option for a number of reasons including that the road reserve is wide enough to accommodate the proposed two lanes and that the land is almost exclusively under the ownership and control of council, with the exception being the rail crossing,’ Mr Holloway said.
‘Plus the current Butler Street route has the support of the state government which recently announced its support with $10.5 million funding,’ he added.
On the option of using the rail corridor, Mr Holloway said the land had ‘a number of complex issues including land tenure and competing objectives for the area’.
He said this included ‘the current need for large buffer zones for the rail that can only be removed if the rail line is closed via an Act of Parliament’, and added land also needed to be set aside for the proposed rail trail.
The EIS requirements will be established once council has lodged the application with the Department of Planning and Environment for approval.
‘Once the Preferred Route Report and the request to lodge an application have been considered by the state government, feedback from the department will be included within the EIS,’ Mr Holloway said.
When commenced in the New Year, the EIS will include a two-part community consultation phase and considers issues such as noise attenuation, pedestrian and cyclist access, local and resident access, lighting, paths and parking. The community will have an opportunity to provide input at the start of the EIS process in early 2015, as well as a second opportunity to provide feedback on the draft EIS document and road design in the middle of 2015.
The Preferred Route Report can be downloaded as a PDF here.