THE WAY WE WERE: Wall to wall cars in Jonson St. A picture from Byron Shire News story from January 1998.
THE WAY WE WERE: Wall to wall cars in Jonson St. A picture from Byron Shire News story from January 1998.

COMMENT: Village of the jammed

PARDON me if I don’t get too excited about the approval by the – non- representative – Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel of the $10 million Byron Bay town centre bypass.

So much community energy, so many reports and so much money has been invested in this saga over the past 20 or more years that the final go-ahead, for me, has come as an anti-climax.

The bypass, known as the Butler St option, could have – and should have – been built years ago.

That it hasn’t been reflects badly on successive councils for their lack of decisiveness to get on with the job.

If it can be approved now, why not all those years ago?

So many wasted years. So much wasted effort.

Reflect on this. A development application for the Butler St option, the same option that has just been approved, was lodged in April 2001 and sadly, as the Great God Car continued to eat Byron Bay, it sat gathering dust for more than 3000 days before the council voted to withdraw it in July 2010.

That’s a shameful statistic and it got worse as the council then dithered around with the fanciful idea of a “town centre diversion” utilising the second rail crossing near The Rails.

Thankfully that never really gained much traction in the community before the Butler St option was brought to life again in 2014 with the State Government announcing it was allocating $10.5 million for the project.

A new DA went on exhibition a year ago and after reviewing the application and submissions for and against, as we have seen, the planning panel approved it.

The next step is to build it. My guess is that will be another lengthy saga with hurdles seen and possibly yet unseen to be negotiated.

Living on the south side of Byron Bay I certainly will use the bypass if and when

it is built to avoid the CBD clog, but I have my doubts

as to whether the estimated 20% cut in traffic going

into the CBD will substantially ease traffic congestion.

Surveys have repeatedly shown most people driving into Byron Bay from the north want to go into the CBD or the beaches.

So, given the years of investment given to the issue, rather than talking about when the bypass will be completed, the council and community really should be now talking about and planning for a bigger, fair dinkum bypass around the town starting further out along Ewingsdale Rd, something even the council acknowledges will have to be built.

Given the Butler St bypass history, I don’t imagine I will be around to see that happen.


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