A bypass in town of Yass, New South Wales (NSW) State by the Hume Highway - linking Sydney and Melbourne. The bypass includes 15 bridges and 18km of dual carriageway.
Project Type:Bypass Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:6,000 Length (mi):11.19
Economic Distress:0.50 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):2 Population Growth Rate (%):7.55
Employment Growth Rate (%):9.52 Market Size:0 Airport Travel Distance:70 Topography:1
Region:International State:New South Wales County:Yass Shire
City:Yass Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:Yass
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:-34.842158 / 148.911204
Initial Study Date:1991 Post Constr. Study Date:1995
Constr. Start Date:1991 Constr. End Date:1995
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1995 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):85,671,809 Actual Cost (curr $):138,116,592
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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The Yass Bypass is a segment of the Hume Highway in Australia (which runs from Sydney to Melbourne).Yass is in a region where the economy has traditionally been based on sheep farming. The center of town also acted as a service hub for passing traffic and surrounding villages. With the opening of the bypass, traffic was diverted away from the town center. This initially led to a loss of 93 jobs at downtown businesses geared towards pass-through traffic, such as food service establishments and gas stations. However, the town opened a service center along the bypass route, which has added between 100 and 120 jobs to the economy over time. The elimination of pass-through traffic in the town center, which made the town unsafe and unattractive to shoppers, has allowed for extensive revitalization of the town center. It has now become a distinct shopping destination, capturing business that previously was leaving the town and also attracting new business from outside Yass.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Yass Shire is located in the New South Wales province in southeastern Australia and had a population of around 10,000 in 1996. It is a one-hour drive from Canberra, the nation's capital, and a four-hour drive from Sydney, the s largest city. It is adjacent to the Hume Highway (Highway 31), which is a major trade corridor connecting Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities. The closest major airport is in Canberra though there are several small airports closer to Yass.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Yass acts as a small service hub that caters to small villages on its perimeter. The town's economy was traditionally based on agriculture, concentrated in sheep farming. The town has experienced significant economic instability over time due to fluctuations in the price of wool. In recent years, increased global competition and the removal of the price floor for wool had devastating effects on the area. It has recently recovered from the effects of increased competition and a nationwide recession in the 1990's. Part of this recovery was due to the area's proximity to the Hume Highway. Yass is a major stop along the highway, with many service stations available to truckers going between Sydney and Melbourne.
The town has an historic downtown that draws tourists. Its close proximity to Canberra has also attracted commuters who work in the capital and retirees looking to settle in the country. Part of this recent population influx is due to improved access to Canberra facilitated by a connector to the Barton Highway, which opened in 1995. As a result, property values have increased, causing some farms to move outside of the town or sell off their land for real estate development. These changes have led to significant structural and economic changes in Yass in the past several years.
The Yass Bypass (a segment of the Hume Highway) was constructed for $102 million (Australian dollars) and opened to traffic in 1994. The project was completely funded by the Australian federal government.
Originally, the Hume Highway ran through the center of town, creating a busy main street deemed unsafe and unattractive due to the constant traffic. A bypass of Yass was first proposed in the 1970's and subsequent studies were done to determine its potential impact on the town. The bypass was expected to increase the attractiveness of the town by diverting the flow of traffic (especially trucks) around its center. However, it was also expected to result in the loss of travel-related service jobs, causing deep concern as many of the businesses in the town center relied on passing traffic.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The opening of the bypass transformed Yass into a transportation hub. It serves tourists drawn to the center of town and pass-through traffic, including trucks, at a new service center along the bypass. The bypass has also reduced travel time on the major route between Sydney and Melbourne. As a result, Yass has become more of a nexus of interstate movement. For example, Transborder (a bus company) and Ron Finemore Transport (a logistics and distribution company) use the town as a hub for passenger and freight movement, respectively.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) done in 1988 predicted that the town would lose 71 jobs as a result of the bypass. The year after the bypass opened, there were an estimated 93 jobs lost from businesses surveyed, representing 14% of these businesses' employment and $10 million in lost sales. The bulk of these losses occurred at businesses catering to motorists, including food and service stations. There were also small indirect impacts from the bypass. The suppliers to the directly affected businesses did not shed jobs but experienced drops in sales.
The town eventually made up for these initial negative impacts, however, with the 1996 opening of a new service station along the bypass route, which added 80 jobs to the economy. More recently, the service center has added another 20-40 jobs. The town has also become a retail and service hub with access to a wider market.
The mayor of Yass at the time of the bypass claims that it was "a catalyst for ancillary development. The job statistics don't tell the full story." The town has also undergone a $3.5 million rehabilitation program to improve the appearance of the main street. This has contributed to the attraction of businesses and residents that was only feasible with the elimination of through traffic from the downtown. The program included improvements to infrastructure (telephone, gas, and power) along the main street. The town, through a land purchase and sale agreement, has attracted a Woolworth's supermarket, which resulted in a $3 million profit for the town. This money may now be used for future development in Yass. The supermarket has attracted new business that has helped revitalized the town center. Yass is now a shopping destination in its own right, attracting new business and capturing customers who once went to Canberra. (Woolworth's had estimated that $45 million in retail trade was leaving the town annually.) The downtown revitalization is an indirect result of the bypass, resulting from the removal of traffic from the town's main street.
The bypass has created 7 to 27 jobs, counting the added employment at the service station and the losses of jobs in the downtown.
The bypass initially resulted in a loss of jobs in Yass, which occurred while the town was still reeling from a major recession in the early 1990's. The recovery from the recession and economic shift from agriculture coincided with the opening of the bypass. Despite initial job losses, there is now more business on the main street than prior to construction of the bypass. The presumed negative effects of a bypass were mitigated, and eventually surpassed, by the economic development efforts of the government of Yass. They worked with local businesses in order to notify them on how the bypass would change the community. There was a period of lead time that allowed the town ample time to prepare for the consequences and adapt. Businesses changed to accommodate the new situation by adding advertising and changing product lines tailored for different customers. The town is now more of a destination than a stop along the highway.
Yass offers a lesson to other communities facing a new bypass. Businesses should be included in planning for change from the outset. In many cases, when faced with a bypass, there is a sense of impending doom from the residents of the town. This gap in understanding can lead to panic from local businesses, which leaves them unprepared for the change, exacerbating the adverse effects of the bypass. With advanced planning, businesses may be able to capitalize on changes resulting from the bypass, eliminating potential negative impacts.
University of New South Wales
Yass Valley Council
Case Study Developed by Economic Development Research Group, Inc.