By Linda Clarke
Contractors undertaking the revamp of Ashburton’s central business district say they are working hard to keep disruption to businesses and workplaces to a minimum.
Night work was also being considered, Tru-Line Civil owner manager Daniel Powell told Ashburton District Councillors in an update on the two-year project recently.
The work is being conducted in phases, with Cass Street first. A new watermain and sewer is being laid first, followed by stormwater services and kerbing, then finally road and footpath works.
Cass Street should be finished by August, according to the project’s timeline.
Mr Powell said contractors met with Cass Street affected parties before the work began and talked through the details.
He said there was support for the revitalisation project, which made the contractor’s job easier.
They are keeping people up to date with information and mail drops.
“It is a major project and we are trying to take the town from where it is at the moment to a pretty modern, exciting-looking place to do business in and shop.”
Mr Powell said some on-the-spot changes had been made to the plan, like moving the location of a tree that would be in a business entrance.
He said it had been important to be upfront about the disruption and make sure people could contact him or project manager Conor Redmond.
“We are trying to work on the principle that if we are working on the road, then the footpath is open so people have access to the shop and not the whole block is closed off. We know people are trying to run their business.”
While working at night was a consideration in some parts of the project, it had challenges for the work crews. “Mainly you can’t see what is going on and the lack of support services if you need them.”
Tru-Line completed a similar CBD revitalisation project in Blenheim and Mr Powell said it had set the town up for further growth. “I guess you guys are hoping the same will happen here and from the design I have seen, it looks good.”
Chair of council’s town centre subcommittee Carolyn Cameron said she had walked Cass Street and spoken to retailers about the redevelopment. “Some were not happy about access but I think it can be worked through.”
The most common complaint was gravel on footpaths, and the contractors have committed to sweeping those daily.
Work crews will move to Tancred, Burnett and Moore Streets later this year, then finish on East and Havelock Streets.
Council is also investigating ways to tell the district’s history in the CBD, though historic plaques or other information spots. They have looked for inspiration at Motueka, which has its history spelled out at the side of a special historic walk.