The Byron Bay Bypass project was funded by the NSW Government ($20 million including funding from Growing Local Economies) and $4 million from Byron Shire Council.
The project experienced a number of challenges prior to and during construction.
The most significant impacts the project experienced included:
- The presence of protestors at the start of the project in July 2019.
- A referral process with the Federal Department of Environment and Energy (DoEE) after allegations that activities planned for Stage 2 of the project were in breach of the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act. In January 2020, the DoEE confirmed it was satisfied with the projects existing offsets and mitigation measures. This process substantially delayed the project and resulted in high additional costs.
- The discovery of a number of unknown site conditions during construction such as old sewer mains, contaminated soils, poorer than expected ground conditions throughout parts of the project, and heritage footings that were uncovered and referred to Heritage NSW.
- The Queensland COVID-19 border closure impacted the availability of sub-contractors, and the ability for cross-border contractors to attend the site.
These challenges proved too great for the project to be delivered without additional funding. As a result, the project ended with a $1.75 million shortfall. Byron Shire Council has submitted a request for further funding from Transport for NSW to recover the additional project cost. If unsuccessful Council will fund these costs through loan borrowings.
The Bypass offers a new route across Byron Bay that allows motorists to avoid travelling through the town centre. Our traffic modelling shows that 20-30% of cars using Jonson Street each day will use the Bypass instead once it is open. That is an estimated 3200 – 4400 less cars in the town centre each day, that will be travelling on the new Bypass to make their way east and west across town.
The bypass is not a silver bullet solution for Byron Bay's traffic woes, however it is a critical project as part of relieving the congestion on Ewingsdale Road.
Council supports the multi modal use of our existing rail corridor and has just funded a feasibility study that has shown a light rail service and cycleway could be developed on the disused alignment.
Using the rail corridor to build a road would rule out the option of delivering a rail service in the future. It is Council’s priority to provide a shuttle service over a road, particularly when another road route option exists nearby exists approximately 30 metres away.
Not only that – the State Government owns the existing rail corridor and even if there was sufficient space for rail services, a cycleway and a road, it would require an Act of Parliament to close this section of the rail line and build a road in close proximity. Council chose to build the road on land it owns and controls.
There have been claims that the rail corridor option would have less impact on vegetation and habitat. However, this route would still impact a similar portion of wetland as the chosen route. The difference in clearing for both options is minimal.
Construction of the bypass will impact 1.56 ha of coastal wetland rest (0.39% of the total wetland area in the central Byron Bay). Council has two approved Biobanking agreements in place issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. As part of these agreements, we’re improving and conserving an additional 44.5 ha of similar vegetation in the area.
Butler Street is being transformed into a bypass, or more specifically a sub-arterial road. The lighting on the road has been designed to Category V5, which is the lowest category of lighting for a sub-arterial road such, in accordance with Australian Standard 1158 for the lighting of roads and public spaces.
In 2019 the luminaire strength was reviewed to ensure the lowest possible luminaire that Essential Energy allows was selected. Following the review, Council adjusted the luminaires from 200W to 150W. The project team are also looking into options for LED glare shields to try and minimise light spill into adjacent properties. If this is possible and does not void Essential Energy’s warranty on the streetlights, they will be installed as part of the project.
While we acknowledge this is a change for Butler Street and the surrounding community, Council cannot accept liability of installing undersized luminaires on this road, due to the safety risk this poses.
When the review took place, it was identified that at the current light pole spacing, the minimum wattage to achieve a Category V5 lighting was 100W. However Essential Energy currently only allows luminaries of 80W, 150W and 200W, this is why 150W had to be installed.
Council applied to Essential Energy seeking permission to install non-standard luminaires at 100W. We did not receive approval, and then proceeded with the installation of the Essential Energy prescribed 150W lanterns.
Essential Energy will own and maintain these streetlights into the future.
The colourful wall is a noise wall. It was required as a part of our development consent conditions, relating to noise mitigation.
The panels are engineered composite panels, they are ultra-high impact resistant, vandal resistant and noise resistant. The noise wall has been constructed as per the requirements detailed in our acoustic engineering advice. We were advised to construct the panels at 2.4m high for 140m (near residential buildings) and 1.8 m for 60 m (where no residential dwellings exist).
The raw panels were a neutral grey colour. A protective coating was required to protect the wall from weathering. A high quality paint was advised for the coating, and Council was advised any combination of colours could be chosen for the wall.
Rather than keeping the panels a neutral colour, Council resolved to paint them in a wetland inspired coloured palette as an interim measure. The colours were curated by a landscape architect.
A public art project was outside of the scope of the Bypass project and there were no allocated funds for an art project of this scale.
If funding opportunities present, Council will consider a public art project for the wall.
The full report from the March 2020 meeting can be read at the following link: