Byron Shire Council last week trumpeted the opening of the new Blindmouth Causeway on Main Arm Road with great fanfare.
And the $1.48 million construction is doubtless a significant improvement on the previous low-level creek crossing.
But local residents are questioning why no provision was made for cyclists and pedestrians.
And a former councillor says the Council should never have had to pick up any of the tab.
The project was funded with a $570,000 grant from the Australian Government’s Bridges Renewal Program with Byron Shire Council providing $664,000.
But former councillor, Duncan Dey, told Echonetdaily, ‘It was originally to be funded by the developers of the three residential estates it now serves’.
‘Once the developers got their side of the bargain, however, they reneged and the burden then fell on the public purse,’ he said.
Mr Dey added it was ‘inevitable that speed through [Main Arm] village would increase [as a result] and this very stock standard road upgrade ignores that factor’.
Main Arm Bikeway Group, which is advocating for a bike path from Mullumbimby to the Main Arm Village, applied for a community grant to attach a footpath and bike bridge to the new structure.
But the group’s submission for funding from the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund was rejected.
A spokesperson told Echonetdaily, ‘Lots of local children who both walk and cycle to the Main Arm store use the bridge’ adding ‘it’s an opportunity missed to keep our kids safe’.
One in 10-year flood
But Council’s director of infrastructure, Phil Holloway, is upbeat about the project.
‘The days of residents being flooded in every time there’s prolonged rain have been greatly reduced, with the new concrete box culvert structure being two metres higher and designed to withstand a one in 10-year flood event,’ he said in a media statement.
‘The new dual lane road approaches are also a vast improvement on what the Main Arm community has lived with over the decades and provide greatly increased and welcomed road safety for around 900 vehicles that use the causeway each day,’ he added.
‘Council worked closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to ensure the new structure was fish-friendly.
‘We also worked closely with the Office of Environment and Heritage in the development of a vegetation management plan to offset the project footprint.
‘We are very pleased to be delivering this exciting major project on time and within the budget – it will be a terrific asset for the community for decades to come,” Mr Holloway said.