PLANNING can now begin in earnest for the long-awaited Byron Bay bypass after the NSW Government announced it would set aside $10 million for the project.
In an announcement at Jonson Street, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Roads Minister Duncan Gay and Ballina MP Don Page said the Government had put up $500,000 to complete planning for the bypass and $10 million for its construction.
The bypass the government is funding matches the one recommended a few months ago by Byron Shire Council, running down Butler Street to the Mitre 10 with a second rail crossing leading to Browning Street.
No timeline was put on construction, but Mr Gay said Roads and Maritime Services would "work closely" with the council "to finalise plans for its preferred route before the end of the year".
Along with the train and the Ewingsdale hospital, the Byron bypass has been one of the issues Ballina MP Don Page, who will step down from politics at next year's election, has long argued for.
"When it became obvious that Council could not afford to alleviate the local traffic problems I supported the council's request for State Government financial assistance, given the traffic congestion that both tourists and locals have to endure," Mr Page said in a statement.
Calls for a Byron bypass go back decades, particularly since traffic jams began forming on Ewingsdale Road as vehicles tried to reach the town from the Pacific Highway.
Over recent years that problem has intensified from a holiday season issue to a near-constant queue of cars that intensifies further around peak hour.
Jonson Street and Lawson Street are now also having problems with traffic levels with jams forming at various times of the day.
"This bypass will reduce travel times, improve pedestrian safety and reduce traffic volumes in the town centre, patricularly during the busy summer holiday season," Mr Stoner said.