Byron Council reject rail corridor bypass option due to cost
FRIDAY 10.30am: BYRON Shire Council voted against looking into the costing of the bypass in the rail corridor because of concerns they would have to forfeit the $10.5 million in funding from State Government, exclusively offered for the Butler Street bypass.
Mayor Simon Richardson said over the years the council had looked into where the road should be placed and said the decision was resolved back in 2014 for the Butler Street alignment.
"We've spent $2 million in preparing for construction. We've successfully defended this decision at a cost of $450,000," Cr Richardson said.
It was also argued in council yesterday that even if the road was to be moved into the rail corridor, wetland clearing of native vegetation would still be required.
Whilst Cr Richardson recognised some residents within Butler Streets would not be happy, he said it was time to get on with traffic solutions for Byron Bay.
"We've said from the beginning that the town centre bypass will not solve our traffic woes, but it is part of the solution for keeping cars out," Cr Richardson said.
"Council does not own the rail corridor and suggestions that the State Government would willingly give away, or heavily discount, prime real estate in the middle of Byron Bay is highly unlikely."
"We can't invest millions of ratepayer funds into a project, when Council does not own the land."
Cr Richardson said he hopes the rail corridor could become a key open space feature of town, for residents to gather in a social space.
"Roads aren't sexy but by keeping them out of the town centre, we are supporting our adopted Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan."
FRIDAY 5.30am: BYRON Shire Council has voted against councillor Paul Spooner's motion to complete a report that considered the rail corridor as a possible bypass route.
President of the Butler Street Community Group, Paul Jones, said the group was frustrated and offended but not surprised by the outcome.
"The meeting was a typical display of Byron Shire Council's routine misrepresentation of the facts and the Mayor hell bent on his personal vision to convert our infrastructure corridor into a playground," Mr Jones said.
According to Mr Jones, three Byron Shire councillors voted to seek further and better costings for both the Butler Street route and a rail corridor route, while the remaining six councillors voted against it.
"The Mayor has his vision of a playground, pop-up market place, creative space on the corridor with a mini wetland experience whilst Cr Cameron can only envisage the return of the trains," he said.
"They voted against the motion because Cr Hunter just wanted to get on with it, the Mayor & Cr Ndiaye went on about loss of the funding arranged by Don Page, Cr Basil Cameron was bamboozled by the complexities and the other Greens are just proxies for the Mayor.
Even after the decision was passed down in council today, Mr Jones said the community group will continue to fight the bypass.
"The fight to save Byron Bay from ignorant and wilful damage will continue."