After what has been a considerable time of planning and preparation, I – like many around our district, am very excited to see that construction upgrades to the Ashburton town centre streetscapes will officially begin on Monday (27 January).
The CBD Revitalisation Project has been a major piece of work on the Council's agenda. It is a necessary upgrade that intends to breathe new life into the commercial centre, attract people and businesses back into town and reclaim retail spend.
From Monday, our contractors, Tru-Line Civil will begin replacing and upgrading the three waters infrastructure, construct new road and footpath surfaces, and install new landscape features such as rain gardens, more trees, new plantings and street furniture.
This is a hugely exciting project for our district, and one that residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy for many years to come.
One of the biggest changes the revitalisation will introduce is the shift to a more pedestrian and cycle friendly environment. To support this, the area bordered by East, Moore, Cass and Havelock Streets will become a 30km zone, and both Tancred and Burnett Streets will be one-way roads.
This ensures that while vehicle traffic is still able to access all areas of the CBD, people who prefer to walk, bike or use mobility scooters would feel safer and more welcome to stop and spend time in the CBD as well. It would perhaps also encourage those who drive to stay longer and explore the streets, rather than only stopping to run an errand at one or two places.
These design elements were consulted on with the community in early 2018. Since that time, the Council has been working to develop scheme plans and detailed designs that the contractors will begin building next week.
This project is no small feat. It is a $15 million upgrade that is expected to take up to two years to complete.
Due to its sheer scale, the work will happen street by street, moving gradually from one area to the next, starting on Cass Street. This means only portions of the CBD will be disrupted at any one time, and shoppers are still able to come into town.
Tru-Line Civil will be working closely with businesses and other stakeholders in the area to minimise as much of this disruption as possible.
We understand this is a long project, but as the saying goes, all good things take time. And the end result will make a huge difference to the look and feel of one of district's most important business centres.