Queen St upgrade at Richmond tipped to take extra month
The multimillion-dollar upgrade of Queen St in Richmond is now expected to finish at the end of May – a month later than originally planned.
The Tasman District Council on Tuesday released a revised construction programme for the six-stage project that had fallen more than three months behind schedule by early August, at the end of stage one.
The new timetable, which includes a plan to work on multiple stages at once, comes as the second stage is partially opened including the street in front of the Poppy Thai restaurant.
Poppy Thai owner Pobsak Srithong revealed in early August that he was more than $9600 in arrears, mainly for rent, and feared he might be forced to close in the face of falling sales since the upgrade started. He was feeling more confident on Tuesday.
"We still stay here," Srithong said, adding he had paid back the debt owed to his landlord.
A chunk of that debt had been repaid after a boost in business following news of the Srithong family's difficulties. To fund the rest, the family had sold some land in Thailand and received a loan from friends, he said.
The Srithongs had been touched by the influx of people who came to support the business along with other offers of help.
"A lot of people come [initially]," he said. "After that, it slowed down a little bit but we still have [more] customers."
Srithong said he believed trade had also picked up for other businesses along Queen St.
"People are more active on Queen St, I think," he said.
TDC project manager Jeff Robinson said the revised programme of work would pull back some of the lost time.
"Stage one ended up being 15 weeks late and we're now looking at being four weeks over at the end," Robinson said. "That's pulling back but, of course, the other side of the coin is the actual disruption of not just working in one stage."
The rest of stage two, from Poppy Thai to the Cambridge St closure, was due to be completed next week and would give a "real feel" for the new pedestrian-friendly streetscaping that was also planned for stages three, four and five.
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A street food festival was planned for Saturday, October 14. Called The First Taste, it was a chance for Queen St food outlets to offer their wares along the new-look main street.
"This is fantastic way for people to come and enjoy the new streetscape and support local businesses at the same time," Robinson said.
"The huge amount of work that has gone on under the street to replace the old and undersized stormwater and water pipes can't be seen, obviously but what people may notice is the new road profile. The centre of the street has been lowered, which creates a channel for stormwater to better protect the businesses on Queen St from flooding."
Any business owner who wanted to discuss the revised programme could attend a planned drop-in session on Wednesday at the council chambers from 5pm to 7pm.
"We've invited them to a one-on-one so they can sit down, if they want to, tomorrow [Wednesday]," Robinson said.
Under the revised programme, the upgrade would be complete by December 1 up to the Star of Richmond pub, formerly the Star and Garter, along with some advance stormwater work further along the street. The project would then go on hold over the busy holiday period until early February.
The Queen St upgrade has a total project cost of $13 million. Of that, just over $11m is for the construction work.
TDC engineering services manager Richard Kirby in August told councillors the project could be heading for a $500,000 budget blowout.