Jim Beatson & Hans Lovejoy
It is yet to emerge how Council’s planned roundabout design opposite the police station will improve traffic flows both in and out of Byron Bay.
Council staff told Echonetdaily that consultants GHD and Council staff are yet to finalise a fully developed roundabout plan at the northern end of the route and present it to councillors.
It was in reply to the question, ‘How will the new roundabout interchange address existing traffic congestion, which has known problems with intersecting traffic?’
GHD declined to answer and deferred the question to Council to answer.
Additionally, the NSW government department that administers roads, RMS, handballed the question of what impacts the new roundabouts will have on traffic, back to Council.
Meanwhile, the southern roundabout proposal has been approved by councillors and plans are available on Council’s website.
Council’s media spokesperson told Echonetdaily, ‘The Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan proposes a series of planning and engineering solutions based around the concept of “cars out, people in” to improve pedestrian access and reduce traffic in the town centre.’
Cars out, people in
‘The bypass, which includes the roundabout at its northern end, is one of these solutions. Improved pedestrian and cycle access with the aim of reducing car dependency is part of Council’s long term planning, and is set out in the newly adopted Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan and the Byron Bike Plan.
‘Traffic congestion in Byron Bay is a complex problem that needs a multi-faceted planning and engineering response.
‘Council and Transport for NSW are continuing to work together on long-term projects and concepts aimed at easing traffic congestion on Ewingsdale Road and the Byron Bay town centre’.
Greens mayor Simon Richardson told Echonetdaily, ‘We all need to be cognisant of the fact that traffic wishing to leave Byron central will be lessened. Many of those will use the bypass itself from the Mitre 10 end. So what we do know is that less traffic will be in the CBD looking to leave town, which will balance itself with traffic wanting to go down Butler Street.
‘The expertise required goes above your and my pay grade. We’ve certainly got traffic consultants in place who can do a better job than what we’ve got now.’
While Britain has the highest density of roundabouts on roads, according to The Guardian, the country is switching to traffic lights.
One concern is the increase in cyclist/vehicle collisions. Even collisions at slower speeds can be fatal for cyclists.
The second concern is that even with larger roundabouts, traffic congestion still increases.
Funding for the $24m beleaguered bypass, now paused, owing to an endangered snail in its path, was announced by Nationals MLC Ben Franklin in the run up to the 2019 state election, and has been embraced by most councillors.
This is despite management blunders and impacted residents claiming councillors were ‘brainwashed’ by Council staff to choose the route.