The new $8.4 million Byron Bay Interchange Station is now complete, with the aim of providing increased accessibility and safety for public transport customers.
Yesterday, Nationals MLC Ben Franklin joined outgoing Byron Mayor Simon Richardson (but not local MP Tamara Smith) to inspect the new interchange ahead of it being open to traffic tomorrow.
Mr Franklin said the new interchange will provide more transport and access options in and around Byron Bay and better connect people to the town. ‘The new interchange offers easier pick up and drop off zones for coaches, buses, taxis and rideshare and is about making it more attractive to leave the car at home,’ said Mr Franklin.
‘Road users will also notice reduced congestion in and around the town centre, which is a huge win for locals,’ he said.
Works included preserving the iconic heritage water tower (alas, minus its wonderful graffiti art) and new landscaping, incorporating native plants and scrubs.
The project has supported about fifty people during construction, across engineering, building and administration roles. Mayor Simon Richardson said the opening of the bus interchange was another key achievement in the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan which prioritises pedestrians over cars.
‘In February this year we opened the Byron Bay bypass which has been an outstanding success with the latest counts revealing a 30 percent decrease in traffic in Jonson Street,’ he said.
‘The opening of this bus interchange means that congestion will be further reduced and this is a terrific outcome for the community,’ said Cr Richardson.
Local member snubbed from opening
In what has been a disturbingly regular occurrence, the Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, whose electorate includes Byron Bay, was not invited to the interchange opening. (Ben Franklin MLC unsuccessfully stood for her seat at the last election.)
Ms Smith has been critical of the environmental destruction associated with the bypass and interchange.
Tamara Smith told The Echo: ‘One thing the last few months have shown us is that the Liberals and Nationals have an entitlement problem and a misogyny problem.
‘They feel entitled to rort the system and they perpetuate a culture in which women are treated with contempt.
‘Ironically yesterday I was giving evidence at a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Liberals and Nationals Grants rorts!’ she said.
‘Open, honest, transparent, collegial and bi-partisan ways of doing democracy is what our communities are demanding from their elected leaders. But what we are getting from the Liberals and Nationals are backroom deals, dishonest processes, captain’s picks, misogyny, entitlement and self interest,’ said Tamara Smith.
It is yet to be seen if anything will improve as 2021 rolls on.
For more information about the new transport interchange, please visit this site.