Stroll on the Berry bypass

Thousands of people turned up on Sunday morning to walk along a section of the Berry bypass, which included a 610-metre bridge. Pictures: Adam McLean
Thousands of people turned up on Sunday morning to walk along a section of the Berry bypass, which included a 610-metre bridge. Pictures: Adam McLean

On Sunday morning, Berry residents voted with their feet in support of the bypass that skirts around their town.

Berry residents Carol and Miles MacDonald believe the bypass will make the town of Berry a better place to live.

Berry residents Carol and Miles MacDonald believe the bypass will make the town of Berry a better place to live.

From next month, the four-lane bypass will send vehicles around the town rather than down the main street.

But on Sunday morning it was the pedestrians who had right of way and thousands of them – many of whom were Berry locals – turned out to walk along a three-kilometre stretch of the bypass.

One of those residents was Mike James, who turned up on a chilly morning to have a look at the road.

It was the first time he'd been able to see it, given the section of highway near the town is cut below ground level and effectively invisible from the main street.

Mr James believed residents were in favour of the bypass, because of the effect it will have on reducing traffic along the main street of Berry.

“I haven’t heard one person say it’s not [a good idea],” Mr James said.

“We sat outside the gelato shop one day and we counted 19 out of 20 cars that probably wouldn’t have come through town – couriers, trucks, deliveries, things like that.”

Mr James reckons having fewer trucks rumbling down the main drag will mean residents will get their town back.

“It’ll bring the town out,” he said.

“The kids will be able to ride through the town and it will be a bit safer. I know there’s a hesitance right now to let them go by themselves on bikes or scooters because of the trucks.”

What remains to be seen is whether Berry will still be a tourist destination after the bypass opens. Will people want to pull off the highway and stop in, or will they drive past?

Mr James said he wasn’t sure, but suggested any shortfall in visitors may be offset by more spending by locals.

“I think locals who aren’t spending money in town probably will, just because of the ease of being able to go into town and get a parking spot,” he said.

Carol and Miles MacDonald have been living in Berry for three-and-a-half years and came out on Sunday to show their support for the bypass.

“I think it’s gong to be a fantastic change for Berry,” Ms MacDonald said.

“With the trucks going through Berry, it’s just been crazy - even just in the three years we’ve been here.

“It could be just something as simple as being able to walk down and get a coffee without having to wait for a gap in the trucks. It’s crazy that a national highway still runs through the town.”

She felt the township had “fantastic” restaurants, cafes and shops, which would help it continue to be a tourist destination.