YAMBA BYPASS: ‘We don’t want to be like Byron’
AFTER a glut of major infrastructure projects finished in the Clarence Valley talks have turned to another big ticket item - the long awaited Yamba bypass.
The issue was thrust back into the spotlight at Tuesday's Clarence Valley Council meeting during discussion over the proposed construction of a roundabout off Witonga Dr and Yamba Rd, by the developer of Yamba Quays.
Councillors decided to give in principal support for the location of the roundabout, enter into negotiations with a landowner to purchase land to facilitate its construction and allow the developer to offset Yamba Bypass Contributions by providing a fourth leg off the roundabout.
The fourth leg - or exit - would eventually serve as the gateway entry into Yamba and provide an access point to the bypass.
Responding to a series of questions regarding whether the site was chosen to suit Yamba Quays or because it was the most appropriate place to start the bypass, Environment, Planning and Community director Des Schroder confirmed the proposed site sat right at the beginning of land earmarked for the bypass since "back in the Maclean (Shire Council) days".
Council has been steadily planning for the bypass - by acquiring land and offsetting contributions - since as far back as 1989 and Mr Schroder said provisioning for the fourth leg now would save money in the future.
"What we are doing is allowing for it to happen … otherwise you are going to have to go back and redesign the whole roundabout from scratch and that's an inefficient use of council resources," he said.
While the bypass itself was not the primary concern of the original motion, Mayor Jim Simmons afforded councillors the opportunity to question the progress of an October 2019 decision to spend $150,000 on a feasibility study into its construction.
Mr Schroder said it had been in the council works program but suggested staff had prioritised other projects.
"We spent a lot of time on roundabouts and traffic lights last year so we need to get our minds back to the bypass and do the analysis," he said.
Cr Peter Ellem highlighted the importance of getting the ball rolling as it would give the community more certainty as Yamba's population continued to grow.
"I think the sooner we see the updated report on the corridor itself … the better," he said.
"If we don't advance this in our remaining year of this term and into next term it would be remiss of us because population growth will be there in Yamba over the next couple of decades.
"We don't want to be in a position like Byron (Bay), where putting it off has led to a catch up situation."
Cr Arthur Lysaught said council should act now to do whatever it could to get the bypass to "shovel ready" stage.
"I doubt I will see it in my lifetime but maybe the next generation will and I hope they will because Yamba desperately needs it," he said.