Cr Paul Spooner (Country Labor) says that Byron Shire Council is ‘counting its chickens before they hatch,’ over the inclusion of the Byron’s Butler Street bypass within its operational and capital works budget.
Council’s press release on Friday claims that of the $115m earmarked, $54m will be ‘spent on capital works and roads programs; this includes the Byron Bay town centre bypass at an estimated cost of $20m.’
Staff later clarified with The Echo that Council intended to contribute $4m to the project.
The $20m figure appears to rely on a $10.5m promise when former MP Don Page retired in 2014, as well as a further $5.5m from yet-to-be-approved government grants to make up the bypass cost shortfall.
If the grants are not provided by the state government for the bypass – $16m in total – Council would be left with a significant shortfall to complete the bypass.
Cr Spooner told The Echo, ‘Council does not have the funds available to complete the bypass. Council should not be seeking to fund the shortfall in a $20 million project for the Byron Bay bypass from ratepayer funds.
‘Funding for the bypass should be coming from the state government. It was the state government that approved the West Byron development. It is the state government that will be the cause of escalating the traffic congestion into Byron Bay for years to come. At the moment the Butler Street bypass is a road going nowhere while the rail corridor land through Byron Bay continues to grow weeds.’
Apart from the bypass, Council’s capital projects in the coming financial year include the Bayshore and Ewingsdale Roundabout ($4,300,000), rural north and south bridge renewals/upgrades ($2,560,000), cycleways for Byron Bay, Ocean Shores, Bangalow and Suffolk Park ($1,243,300) and Broken Head Road renewal ($1,191,600).
Other roads to be upgraded include Byron’s Bangalow Road, Mullum’s Pine Avenue, Rifle Range Road intersection at Lismore Road and Byron’s Paterson Street.