After 30 years of planning, bypass opens in true Byron style
In true Byron style, a convoy of Kombis were the first vehicles to officially traverse the Byron Bay Bypass this morning.
Byron Shire mayor and Nationals MLC Ben Franklin took the first vehicle through the bypass for the road's official opening.
The bypass was formally open to traffic shortly after 11am.
The stretch of road had been decades in the making and even as construction began in 2019, it faced particular challenges.
There were protesters at the site on day one and later on, the discovery of the rare Mitchell's Rainforest Snail slowed progress to, well, a snail's pace.
But the council gained State Government approval to recommence work in early 2020 and construction was completed last month.
Since then, final touches have been under way to upgrade houses along the bypass to particular standards and finalise the fencing along the route.
The bypass was funded by $20 million from the NSW Government and $4 million from Byron Shire Council.
According to information in a recent council report, the budget blew out by about $1.5 million.
Byron mayor Simon Richardson said it was a significant step for Byron Bay.
"The Byron Bay Bypass project is the largest infrastructure project that Byron Shire Council has ever delivered," Cr Richardson said.
"It is important to recognise the project is comprised of far more than just a new road."
He said works involved in the bypass included construction of three new roundabouts and almost 2km of new shared path.
"The new shared path now means our residents can cycle and walk safely between Suffolk Park and the industrial estate," Cr Richardson said.
NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Energy and the Arts, Ben Franklin MLC, cut the ribbon on the bypass.
He said it was "incredibly exciting" to see the road now open to traffic.
"No longer will locals have to queue on Jonson St to get across town," Mr Franklin said.
"The bypass will offer a more efficient route to connect the eastern and western suburbs of Byron Bay." He said while 1.5 hectares of vegetation was impacted by Stage 2 of the project, 44.5 hectares of similar vegetation was not protected in perpetuity through two biobanking agreements at Lilli Pilli and Wallum Place.
"Council have always been committed to going above and beyond on environmental matters, which is why we've also invested $81,700 towards the regeneration of 17.5 hectares of potential Mitchell's Rainforest Snail habitat at Sunrise Boulevard Bushland, Butler St Reserve and Midgen Swamp Reserve in Suffolk Park," Cr Richardson said.
More than 10,000 new shrubs and trees were planted, he said.