THE recently opened Ballina bypass has seen smiles all round for stopping customers and business owners in Broadwater.
Owner of Broadwater BP service station, Patsy Wicks, has noticed a significant increase of customers and the happier mood of drivers since the bypass was opened on November 29.
"There have definitely been more people stopping in for food and drinks. Our customers have said they enjoyed the trip a lot more rather than dealing with the roundabouts and lights at Ballina," Mrs Wicks said.
Broadwater has seen a high demand for fast food options and toilet breaks, being the next rest stop for drivers after Chinderah.
"By the time drivers come past Ballina they are in need of something to eat and that's what stops them here," Mrs Wicks said. "We have had a lot of people buying fast food, they just want to grab something and keep going."
With the increase of people stopping at Broadwater, Mrs Wicks has called for more signage to make it easier for the general public to find toilets.
"We know when it is busier because the push on our customer toilets becomes a lot heavier. The public toilets in Broadwater are not very well signposted, which is making a real cost for us," Mrs Wicks said. "We need to push for an increase of signs directing people to the public toilets in the park."
Owner of Melba's Veranda cafe, Bev Moloney, said the increase in customers had meant it had been hard to keep up.
"We have had a massive increase of customers coming in looking for food options, it has been a very busy time for us," Bev said.
Greg Murray, who travels regularly between Evans Head and Brisbane for business, says the bypass has been great, allowing for an easier drive.
"The bypass has taken up to 20 minutes off my drive to and from Brisbane. It is much easier not having to navigate between heavy trucks at roundabouts and lights through Ballina," Mr Murray said.
The increase of business has been regarded as an early Christmas present for some after the wet weather dropped tourist numbers in the area last Christmas.
"We really need a big lift after the slow time for the Northern Rivers last year," Mrs Wicks said.
"This new increase in business from the bypass certainly does feels like an early Christmas present."
Mrs Wicks said the increase in customers meant an increase in theft, including an incident on Saturday, December 3, in which a motorist drove off with a tank of fuel without paying. "While we are really happy to have the increase in business this is the down side," she said.