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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

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Lennox Rise development clears another hurdle

The massive new residential development planned west of Epiq in Lennox Head continued its progress towards becoming reality at the last Ballina Shire Council meeting.

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Editorial – Ewingsdale development creep rejected by residents

A petition of 294 signatures against rezoning Ewingsdale farmland to commercial use will be presented to councillors for their upcoming Thursday meeting.

Lennox Rise development clears another hurdle

The massive new residential development planned west of Epiq in Lennox Head continued its progress towards becoming reality at the last Ballina Shire Council meeting.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: There is no place like home… actually there are no places

Local low income residents in Byron Bay are the human koalas of our Shire. They too have lost much of their habitat. We need affordable housing now, not in three years, or five years, or ten. Now.

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Will the Lennox Park pavilion survive?

Ballina Shire Council will today debate the future of the Lennox Park pavilion/dressing shed, which is slated for removal as part of the Lennox Village Vision concept plan.

Louise Doran, Ocean Shores

It’s planned to spend $78m of taxpayers’ money to move the traffic congestion, dangerously banking up at the Byron Bay exit of the M1 further up Ewingsdale Road (7 October). Add the $24m cost of the Byron bypass, which bypasses the train station in town, and the $5.7m roundabout, and the cost so far to try and keep the traffic flowing into Byron – not reduce it – is a massive $107.5m spent on just six kilometres of road.

Repairing three kilometres of train line running alongside this road cost less than $2m for a train service. Which means the remaining 9 kilometres of line into Mullumbimby could be repaired, and trains running, for less than $6m.

The state government and their dodgy spin doctors, with their equally dodgy ‘studies’, keep telling people that getting trains running on 132km of the Casino to Murwillumbah line would be too expensive, and we may as well dig it up for a bike track, which will cost well over $100m and not take one car off the roads.

Talk about allowing lunatics to run the asylum!

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  1. A good point Louise. It is always interesting to consider the immense expenditure on roads, which really is truly immense (especially for the relatively little benefit it will have over time). In 20 years every dollar of that staggering $107 million will hold no value, as the traffic problems will not disappear so long as Byron remains popular. The cost of restoring rail pales in comparison, yet interestingly we are constantly told it is “too expensive” by people with vested interests. The remainder of the length to Mullum is in similar condition as the North Beach – CBD section was too, so it is not unreasonable to suggest this could be restored at a modest price. Most bridges on the Mullum section are also supported by concrete piers and abutments, hence the wooden decking could easily be replaced by steel spans in the same way the Belongil Creek bridge was. It makes sense, and certainly would not break the bank in the way some people like to say it would. Moving traffic away from the road is the best way to combat congestion. Resorting the rail corridor is the most logical first step in achieving that.

    The $107 million spent on 6 kilometres of road could fully restore and run the railway, which takes people right into the heart of Byron and Mullumbimby. Within 20 years the road will need to be widened so more cars can be crammed into crumbling Shire roads, perpetually exacerbating costs and accelerating maintenance cycles. The train however can just have more carriages and/or services added. You tell me which is more value for money!

    • A train service between Mullum and Byron would make no difference to the traffic on Ewingsdale Road because hardly anyone would use it.

      If the $107 million were spent on the train it would represent about $10,000 for every person who lived in Mullum and Byron combined. Or a million dollars each for the one percent who might use it, and that would be a very optimistic guess at the usage.

  2. First can I note that the late Geoff Clarke after whom the Elements train is named was quite clear that the restoration of the line for the Elements train should not be used as a basis for other parts of the line. The sums for roads are much greater but then they carry tens of thousands of users, so the cost per user is less than rail. Ballina shows that in a larger town, if you do not neglect the development and maintenance of your roads, you do not have congestion spilling out onto the M1. Indeed Byron Bay is the only NSW town along the Pacific Highway regularly causing these problems.
    The households along the corridor in Byron Shire is younger than average has very high car ownership and low use of existing public transport. A train service would have little impact on the the traffic, and certainly is not an excuse to neglect the continued development of the road system. .

  3. As with other rail enthusiasts you do not tell us what “vested interests” lie behind the quote straight forward assessment of every report on the Casino Murwillumbah rail line including ARCADIS that it is too expensive to restore the line for trains, which is what you describe. ARCADIS thought a slow very light rail – essentialy small tourist units – was feasible, but it did not examine the many bridges others have photographed between Mullumbimby and the Bay,; indeed it did not know how many there are. Some of us have seen them and the eleven I saw along half of thay stretch were in poor condition. It was easy to see why the late Geoff Clarke opined that the Belongil stretch was no guide to the cost of restoring other parts of the line.
    And even if the line could be restored to run small slow tourist rail, there is nothing to show it would attract commuters any more than the handful of commuters the Elements train attracts. That’s why the first draft of the Byron Shire Transport Plan did not envisage any contribution for at least the next five years fot rail services and recommends like every other report on the rail corridor, improving the bus services.
    Other towns in regional Australia with smaller rates bases do not have crumbling roads. It is not a result of visitors’ cars which account for only a small part of the wear on roads””; that is largely caused by local heavy vehicles and neglect by successive councils that have not given road maintenance priority. Years of development of its road network means Ballina does not have the congestion of the Bay, but is already planing the reduplication of its main entry roads, starting with River Street which is the busiest road in our region.
    So in answer to your question, road spending is expensive but neglecting road spending costs a lot more, and wasting money on planning tourist trains will not solve anything.


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