HIGHWAY BYPASS: Expert says businesses can boom, but how?
THE Pacific Highway bypass could be Grafton's opportunity to flourish - if the region can unite early enough to plan for its post-bypass future.
This was the main message from a leading transport consultant, Dr Bruno Parolin, who was key speaker at a Grafton Chamber of Commerce information session on Thursday night.
Dr Parolin has specialised in analysing the effects of highway bypasses on Australian communities for the past two decades.
He worked with communities on the Pacific and Hume highways from the 1990s, looking at how businesses could adjust and grow once the bypass occurred.
His advice was provided to councils of places including Kempsey, Goulburn, Yass and Gunning prior to their town bypasses.
In a number of cases he returned to those towns to gauge the effects of the bypass and assess the accuracy of his predictions.
"In most but not all cases, business levels have recovered and surpassed the pre-bypass levels," Dr Parolin said.
To establish how the bypass affected a community, Dr Parolin said it was essential to establish a baseline knowledge of the amount of highway-generated business in the area.
He said this information could be part of an environmental impact statement or in the RMS planning documents for each bypass.
Dr Parolin said he was able to generate that data by surveying businesses to establish how much turnover was attributed to highway traffic.
He backed this with other surveys, including number plate surveys, to give corroborating figures of the source and destination of traffic.
He said the other key requirement was for the major stakeholders in the community to be on the same page when it came to pre-bypass planning.
But he warned it was essential for those stakeholders to get together well before the bypass occurs.
About 80 people attended Grafton High School's multipurpose centre on Thursday to hear the talk by Dr Parolin, alongside Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay, the council's corporate and governance director Laura Black and the Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins.
Mr Lindsay and Mr Higgins talked about their organisations' planning for the bypass, while Ms Black, who was employed at the Greater Taree and District Council when its city was bypassed, talked about Taree's pre- and post-bypass experience.