Town bypasses

A bypass is a road or highway that diverts around a town, and takes the flow of 'through' traffic away from the town.

The benefits can be removing some traffic congestion in the town, reducing noise and vibration and improving road safety. An improved town amenity can, combined with other initiatives, make a town centre more attractive to visitors.

The issues that communities face include changed access arrangements and the potential loss of trade to some business that are more dependent on passing trade. This may alter economic activity that could result with through traffic no longer making a decision once they reach the town centre to pull over to take a break and in doing so spend money.

This page contains resources that relate to town bypasses. It includes links to bypass projects, impact reports and a broader literature review of the economic evaluation of town bypasses in Australia and the US. This paper contains information on three key areas of highway bypass impacts - economic impacts, social impacts and community response and mitigation measures.

Bypassed Town signage initiative

The Bypassed Town signage initiative aims to encourage travellers to stop and visit bypassed towns in rural and regional NSW.

Read more about the initiative.

Oral history - how three towns have changed since being bypassed

Listen to an oral history based on original interviews with members of the Goulburn, Armidale and Karuah communities, and Transport for NSW staff who were closely involved in the planning and construction of the these bypasses.

List of bypass projects

  • Albury Wodonga Hume Freeway
  • Alstonville bypass
  • Ballina bypass
  • Berry bypass
  • Coffs Harbour bypass
  • Coolac bypass
  • Coopernook bypass
  • Holbrook bypass


Economic Evaluation of Town Bypasses

October 2013

This final report evaluates the longer term economic impact of town bypasses against the findings presented in an original study in 1993 and identifies areas requiring further research.

Economic Evaluation of Town Bypasses - Review of Literature

November 2011

This review looks at highway bypass literature since 1994 in order to understand the longer-term impacts of highway bypass roads, and how communities have responded to these impacts.

Economic and Social Impacts - Five Year Report

November 2009

A five year report on the economic and social impacts of the Karuah Highway bypass.

Economic and Social Impacts - One Year Report

November 2005

A one year report on the economic and social impacts of the Karuah Highway bypass.

Sustainability and the Highway 20 Environmental Corridor - Small Town Outlook (Iowa, USA)

January 20013

A report on the potential impacts of re-routing Highway 20 (Iowa, USA) 2003.

Link to document - Texas Department of Transportation

April 2000

Economic Effects of Highway Relief Routes On Small and Medium-Size Communities (Texas, USA). A literature report and review of issues conducted for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Summary of Highway Bypass Studies (Wisconsin, USA)

December 2000

This paper reviews prior studies of the economic impacts of highway bypasses, based on prior research conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Link to document - Kempsey Shire Council

May 2011

Kempsey Shire Council Pacific Highway Bypass Strategy

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