Retailers on Durham St in Tauranga’s CBD are losing patience with the road closure affecting access to their premises.
One lane of the street is closed between the Elizabeth St roundabout and Spring St to allow work to progress in the City Council project to upgrade the area, coinciding with the construction of the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus.
Stage One of the revamp is currently underway, which involves upgrading Durham St and Durham Lane to create a modern, inviting space for everyone including new students coming to the city, the council says.
The upgrade will take about 12 months, says council project manager Jenny Hill.
“It’s an exciting project that will be well worth the effort, along with the university due to open in February 2019, which will bring considerably more foot traffic along Durham Street.”
In the meantime, however, businesses have started feeling the pinch due to the ongoing disruption, a representative of one of the retailers told SunLive.
“There a few businesses down here in Durham St which have started struggling because of the loss of traffic,” says the man, who wanted to be known as Joe.
The road closure makes it difficult for customers and staff to reach the business premises, and times when access is closed completely, he says.
“It’s one lane in, no way out, and they usually close the other end too as they carry out works and then they just open it up as they please.”
Businesses affected include Smiths Motorcycles, Beaurepaires, Eastern HiFi, Gengy’s Mongolian Restaurant, and The Rock Shop.
They are getting little sympathy from enforcement authorities and contractors involved in the work, Joe says.
“These people are not very nice to us. We ask for them to give us some access to our place and all we get is abuse.
“This morning I come to work and a lady pulls me up and she’s threatening me with a $250 fine coming down the street. But honestly, what can I do, you know? How can I get to work? Are they going to reimburse me for the loss of time?
“If I stayed there with them it was starting to escalate so I just turned around and walked off before it gets too ugly, you know?”
However, Jenny says Tauranga City Council want to know if staff or customers are unhappy with their treatment.
“If anyone encounters unprofessional behaviour from contractors we would ask them to let us know so that it can be addressed,” she says.
Joe believes there is no need for the road to be closed in the vicinity of their premises.
“We asked them to move the road closure back because from our point of view it’s pointless being 200m off the worksite, and then we would be all right. They did it for a day but then they put it back where it was.”
They’ve been unable to get a satisfactory response to their concerns, Joe says.
“We’ve tried the council, we’ve tried everyone else.”
Jenny says the council are doing their best for the Durham St retailers.
“In every construction project the council works with residents and business owners to maintain access to their premises.”
She says council are open to looking into assisting the businesses during the construction period.
“We will be working with businesses to find the most appropriate way that Council can provide support.”