Byron Shire Council has hit back at resident claims diverting the Byron Bay bypass through the rail corridor would be ‘far less destructive, cheaper and easier to build and more effective. ’
The council’s infrastructure services director, Phil Holloway, has told Echonetdaily the claims were ‘unfounded’.
‘Council does not own, or have long term tenure on the rail corridor and therefore cannot construct the bypass on it as per Grab the Rail’s proposal. It therefore makes no sense,’ Mr Holloway said.
‘However, the Butler Street route is on council-owned land and road reserve, and is council’s resolved route,’ he said.
Mr Holloway said the final costs would not be known until the detailed design was completed but noted that the bypass on the rail corridor would’ incur additional costs via purchasing the land or a long term lease from the state government.’
‘Building a road on land that we do not own is not currently possible,’ Mr Holloway said.
‘Whilst we recognise that affected property owners do not agree with the proposed route, the EIS and development application are based on the Butler Street route.
‘The Butler Street option and the rail corridor travel a similar distance, are in the same location, have the same start and end points and potentially divert the same amount of traffic.
‘Likewise the proposed clearing impacts are very similar, with 1.16 hectares for Butler Street and 1.1 hectares for the rail corridor.
‘These types of projects can lead to possible impacts for property owners depending on the route, and part of the EIS function is to address issues such as traffic, heritage, environment, land use, noise and vibration, air quality and visual amenity,’ he said.
Mr Holloway said the council would continue to discuss the proposed bypass with affected property owners, market organisers and the broader community as the project progresses.
In relation to car parking on Butler Street, Mr Holloway confirmed that spaces would be lost.
‘However, in nearby Somerset Street there are about 60 spaces that are under-used other than on market days,’ he said.
Parking will also be lost between Mitre 10 and Byron Music.
‘The existing off-street informal parking on Lots 7 and 8 Jonson Street is on Council owned land,’ Mr Holloway said.
‘Council purchased the land in the 1980s for the purpose of a future bypass and has been zoned accordingly since the 1988 LEP.
‘On the issue of parking outside Mitre 10 on Jonson Street, this is being discussed with the tenant and land owner and the intent is to maintain the existing car parking.
This would be reviewed at the detailed design stage and the drawings updated.’
Mr Holloway went on to reiterate that it was well known that Ewingsdale Road and Shirley Street were often impacted by traffic congestion and this had been detailed in the MR545 Traffic Study, which considered peak and low traffic flows.
‘With one road in and one road out, the existing road network has reached its capacity and the Byron Bay Butler Street Bypass is part of the solution to help ease the pressure.
‘The proposed new bypass will divert up to 20 per cent of traffic flowing through the town centre. Whilst only part of the solution, it will mean a significant difference for residents who just want to travel past town to reach either Suffolk Park or the Industrial Estate.
‘In the longer term an additional stage two bypass option further along Ewingsdale Road will need be explored, plus Park and Ride, a stronger pedestrian prioritisation of the town centre via the Byron Bay Masterplan and two lanes in on Shirley Street,’ he said.
General manager Ken Gainger said discussions had been held with the market organisers on the possible impacts from the bypass and pay parking.
‘No decision has been made about the markets relocating, and out of respect we wanted to keep them informed about the projects and hear their concerns.
‘Bringing the elements of the additional needs for town centre parking, the proposed bypass, business and community together is challenging. There are many competing factors and talking with the market organisers is part of the process.
‘The markets are integral to Byron Bay and council recognises the contribution they make to the economy and the social hub they provide. Council is committed to ensuring that the markets continue to prosper within Byron Bay,’ Mr Holloway said.