Roadworks appear 'out of the blue'

Roadworks compromising city business

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 10:00 11/01/2014
 Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub owner Damon Burt
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ
NO COURTESY: Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub owner Damon Burt, among other nearby businesses, is wondering where the notice was about the major roadworks outside his bar – he wishes he was told and has been losing business because of the work.

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Palmerston North business owners are counting the lost coin as customers are driven away due to roadworks.

One of the city's busiest intersection has been transformed into a bumpy, dust-filled construction site this week as the street undergoes upgrade work.

The $600,000 project on the corner Ferguson St and Fitzherbert Ave is the most extensive and expensive part of a three-year resealing upgrade to the road.

But nearby business owners have been scratching their heads wondering what's going on, saying there's been no word from Palmerston North City Council that work was set to start or when it's going to finish.

The eight-week project has so far seen the majority of the ground clearing and stabilising material laid, Monday and Tuesday will see road reshaping and chipsealing completed, which leaves about two weeks worth of work still to be done, depending on the weather, council programmes team leader Rob Campbell said.

Rosie O'Grady's Irish Pub owner Damon Burt said it would have been nice to know that.

"It's just a real pain that no one comes to talk to you, or communicates with you about what's going on.

"There's been no letters, no formal warning at all. It's happened before when minor roadworks were happening outside and it just gets a bit frustrating."

Since the work began some customers have been steering clear of the bar because parks outside have been closed for contractors and dust, dirt and grime was kicked up off the road into the bar, he said.

It had been a bumper summer so far, the bar having an increase in customer numbers and earnings over the last quarter, but since the new year daily income earnings have halved and there has been a drop in foot traffic beyond what is expected during the January slow down period, he said

Mr Burt is not alone. Cornwall Motor Lodge on the opposite side of the intersection has similar concerns, owner Esther Seymour said.

"There's been not a whisper from the council, the contractors just showed up this week and asked if they could use our back section to park their cars . . . normally the council's really good and let us know what's going on, but not this time - they need a bit of a rev up."

Normally three or four drive-in customers a day would seek accommodation, but the number of guests for the entire week had only totalled two.

Pre-booked guests have also made complaints, but Mrs Seymour was unable to warn them about work because she didn't know herself.

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"It has been bad for business, there's no two ways about it."

Mr Campbell said the usual letter drop had been done and because the work is a continuation of annual resealing projects it was well-known it would be happening.

The Standard has heard from a number of members of the public who have had problems because of the roadworks.

One man was in a nose-to-tail car crash after confusion arose due to no signage and lack of clarity from roadworkers.

Another popped the wheel on his motorised scooter going over a bump and one woman's bus trip was 20 minutes late due to traffic congestion caused by the roadworks.

Mr Campbell said the section of street is synonymous with fender benders and the work is aimed at improving clarity and safety for drivers.

The upgrade would include overhead signals being installed, tweakings to the mid-strip islands and improved markings on the road, allowing for better flow of traffic in the future.

"This has got to be done and no matter how we do it, or at what time of year, there's always a compromise. Whether it's business owners or or just people using the road, we try to make the least disruption for the fewest number of people as possible."

He said they've been done at the quietest time of the year to minimise problems and he would be calling in on business owners next week to discuss their concerns.

Similar work will occur at the avenue's intersection at Park Rd in a few weeks - motorists would be advised to take alternative routes wherever possible.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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