Mini-bypass would be ‘a disaster’

A planned mini-bypass for Byron Bay being pushed by Byron Council would be a ‘disaster’ for the town, according to long-time hotel operator, Tom Mooney.

Mr Mooney said he was ‘very much against’ the proposal to utilise the existing emergency rail crossing at the southern end of the railway station and a section of the railway car park near his Railway Hotel for the mini-bypass.

He said the car park, as well as providing a vital service for local workers, was the only remaining piece of open space in the CBD.

“Very rarely do you get this sort of space in the heart of a town,” he said.

“It would be disastrous to change it. It should be preserved at all costs.

“Putting in a bypass would destroy the precinct.”

Mr Mooney said the car park area should be redesigned and beautified as a community asset.

He said the area was the busiest precinct at Byron Bay and adding a mini-bypass would be disastrous.

The council had already bought land at the southern end of Jonson Street for a second rail crossing and that’s where the bypass should go, he said.

Mr Mooney called for greater and ‘proper’ community consultation issue on the issue.

Karin Kolbe from the Trains On Our Tracks – TOOT – group, called on the council not to make any decision that would jeopardise the return of trains to the North Coast line.

Ms Kolbe said the thinking should not be ‘if the trains come back, but when the trains come back’.

“Our town should be making plans for it,” she said.

The council is pursuing a proposal that would see a mini-bypass utilising the emergency crossing in Butler Street with a new road to be built through the railway car park linking up with a new roundabout at the intersection of Jonson and Marvell streets.

While the council has received support from the State Government and rail authorities for the second crossing, there is a major stumbling block – a level crossing will not be acceptable.

Instead, a bridge or underpass would be required just in case train services did return to the North Coast line.

A report to last week’s council meeting said a bridge would not be feasible because of its size and the ‘massive’ land acquisitions and demolition of buildings required.

It said an underpass was ‘equally unfeasible’.

The report said the best option would be to have the level crossing upgraded for traffic and if trains did return, safety facilities such as lights, bells and boom gates could be added.

It said negotiations with rail authorities and the government on the issue should continue, which the council voted last Thursday to do.

The council also voted against the idea of a bridge or underpass as ‘unreasonable and out of scale for Byron Bay’.

And it voted to write to the Minister for Transport advising that bringing back the trains would make a significant contribution to easing traffic congestion in the town.

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