AFTER decades of talk, a long-awaited Byron Bay bypass can finally go ahead with $10.5 million in state funding announced yesterday.
Deputy Premier and Minister for the North Coast Andrew Stoner, Roads and Freight Minister Duncan Gay and Ballina MP Don Page made the announcement outside Mitre 10, Jonson St, where traffic on the inner-town bypass will emerge after entering on Shirley St via Butler St.
The Government has put up $500,000 to complete planning for the bypass and $10 million for construction.
"This bypass will reduce travel times, improve pedestrian safety and reduce traffic volumes in the town centre, particularly during the busy summer holiday season," Mr Stoner said.
The funding is a coup for Byron Shire Council which would not be able to afford it.
"For a small town we are the most visited destination behind Melbourne and Sydney - but we always needed the state to step up and help us," Mayor Simon Richardson said.
"This is a wonderful outcome and although it won't cure the problem, this allows traffic to get around the town, instead of through it. The community can start popping some champagne corks today.
"It will also help those who work in the industrial estate and Suffolk Park, plus the police and emergency services."
The bypass is another big ticket promise delivered by Member for Ballina Don Page ahead of his retirement, following funding for the new Byron Shire Hospital.
"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.
"It will not be a panacea for Byron Bay's traffic problems, but it will certainly improve traffic flow for the community."
Mr Gay said Roads and Maritime Services would work closely with the council to finalise plans for its preferred route.