The idea of a bypass is far from new, says florist Clare Marsh, “it’s been talked about for thirty years or more.” The idea, which pops up regularly, has the potential to divide the community. Ms Marsh believes that while it might be controversial, a bypass is inevitable, “it’s one of those things that will have to arrive in Braidwood,” the florist says.
It’s indisputable that no one likes the trucks that hurtle through town, or the traffic jams clogging up the main street, but the business Canberra to coast traffic brings is important to many local businesses. The Times took to Wallace Street to see what the town thought.
Some local businesses fear the loss of trade from passing traffic that a bypass could signal, while others believe it’s quality, not quantity which drives sales. Gilles Bernardoff says his antiques business relies on “proper shoppers,” rather than blow ins. Likewise, jeweler William Verdon expressed the view that while a bypass might cause a downturn in trade for a short period “eventually people who want to come here will come here, and they’ll have a much nicer experience.”
Not all of those who work in small businesses were for the bypass. “I don’t see why it would be a good things” says Courtney Doyle who works in a cafe on Wallace Street, “if there’s a quicker way, people are going to take it.”
“I’d love to see the trucks out of the main street, but I think being a small business that relies on passing trade, it could be very detrimental,” said Rebecca Sheriff of Sandalwood Homewares.
Retirees John and Bobbie Beale saw both sides of the issue, but drew attention to the merits of the traffic. “While we live in the town and we like the country amenity, we also like the fact that there’s good eateries and there are things that come with prosperity that people driving through bring,” says Mrs Beale.
Those asked saw the example of Goulburn, which was bypassed in 1992 very differently. A success story to some, others believed that it had killed many small businesses.
Bypass or no bypass, there’s no keeping some away, Peter Shea of Sydney says “it wouldn’t worry me, I come through here because I love the pie shop.”
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