Work stops to let the lights on

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - By Kelly Den­nett

A mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar re­build of Auck­land’s favourite road isn’t stop­ping its res­i­dents from turn­ing on the lights for Christ­mas for the 25th year in a row.

Long-time Franklin Rd Christ­mas lights co-or­di­na­tor Ross Thorby con­firmed to the Her­ald on Sun­day its tra­di­tion of en­ter­tain­ing fam­i­lies with a free fes­tive dis­play would go ahead, in spite of sig­nif­i­cant re­de­vel­op­ments to the Pon­sonby street over the past year.

The thor­ough­fare be­tween Pon­sonby and Auck­land’s CBD is get­ting im­proved foot­paths, street lights and a cy­cle­way.

Thorby said from the start of the project, in con­sul­ta­tion with res­i­dents, Auck­land Trans­port had agreed that con­trac­tors would pack up and leave in time for the light show, which opens on De­cem­ber 1 with a se­cret star to per­form the turn-on.

In pre­vi­ous years, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter He­len Clark, sailor Dean Barker, mu­si­cian Dave Dob­byn, and ac­tor Karl Ur­ban have all done the job.

“The street has been ne­glected for so long we just wanted to co-op­er­ate with [of­fi­cials] and get it over and done with as soon as pos­si­ble,” Thorby said.

“I was quite flat­tered and stunned that they said they’ll be out in time for the lights. I thought, ‘You’re go­ing to stop a $16m project for our little com­mu­nity’?”

Thorby said ev­ery­body would en­joy the Christ­mas lights and be able to drive the length of the street as usual. More than 100 homes typ­i­cally take part, spend­ing thou­sands on dec­o­rat­ing their homes. Auck­land Trans­port me­dia spokesman Mark Han­nan said it was very im­por­tant that the tra­di­tion be kept alive. “That’s an iconic part of Auck­land and we were never go­ing to in­ter­fere with the Christ­mas lights.”

Work will re­sume in Jan­uary with a round­about to be built at the Welling­ton St in­ter­sec­tion.

The two-stage up­grade will see the tree-lined street get a cy­cle­way, new foot­path and park­ing, a round­about, bet­ter light­ing, stormwa­ter drain im­prove­ments and a new bus stop. Work be­gan last year and will con­tinue into 2019.

Paul Est­court

Santa’s little elves are out ev­ery year on Franklin Rd, de­spite road­works.

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