The Northern Star

Bottleneck at Tugun bypassed

THE long-awaited Tugun bypass will open to motorists today, cutting approximately 20 minutes off the travelling time from Byron Bay to Brisbane.

The bypass is designed to eliminate traffic bottlenecks between the M1 Brisbane-Gold Coast Motorway and the Pacific Highway at Tugun.

Byron Bay real estate agent Matt Towner, from Elders, said the new bypass had already had an impact on the luxury end of the property market.

"It makes Byron closer to Brisbane than Noosa," he said.

"It's an hour-and-a-half from CBD to CBD and we've definitely seen more interest from Brisbane and Gold Coast buyers in the last six months."

He said it had opened up the market for people looking for weekenders.

"You can be out of your corporate job in Brisbane on Friday afternoon and be on acreage or in your beach house within a couple of hours. Really they can have the best of both worlds," he said.

"There are notorious bottlenecks to the Sunshine Coast and this highway will now be free moving. It will create renewed interest in Byron Shire."

Mr Towner said the bypass would have pushed prices up, but other economic factors such as higher interest rates and inflation had played a part in keeping them stable.

There are fears from some shop owners that the quicker travel time to the Gold Coast will send more local residents north to go shopping. But the duty manager at Ballina Fair Shopping Centre, Bernie Jones, doesn't agree.

"If people are going to do that, they're already doing it now. People go up there to go to Myers and DJ's, but in the main that strip (of road) is not going to change people's minds. I don't see it as a major drama and haven't had a word of concern from shop owners," she said.

Hundreds of people turned out yesterday to be the first to walk the seven-kilometre, four-lane bypass, that is expected to ease congestion in Tugun by taking between 35,000 to 45,000 vehicles a day off the historically gridlocked Gold Coast Highway.

"This is the most significant congestion-beater that has ever been built in the state," said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who was greeted with cheering and applause by the large crowd. "This bypass will make a huge difference to people who live and work across the border, and will make a difference to the tourists whose dollars we so rely on in this area."

Hundreds of hands shot into the air when Ms Bligh asked how many people lived locally, and would benefit from the bypass.

"I want to thank the locals who put up with the trucks, the noise and dust during construction," she said. "You have been waiting for this bypass for a long time. I hope you think it was worth the wait."

Updates on the new bypass are available on the Traffic Management Authority's website, www.131940.qld.gov.au, or by phoning 13 19 40.


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