Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough
KiwiRail ploughs on with overbridge
The most direct route from Shakespeare Bay, where most cruise ships berth, and the centre of Picton is filled with cones and closed to traffic. But not for much longer.
Work to relocate underground services is under way on Picton’s Dublin St, so that work can begin on the Dublin St overbridge in early 2023, said KiwiRail iReX Picton Terminal programme manager Harry Singh.
‘‘Work is going well, and we hope to have things open before Christmas,’’ Singh said.
‘‘The Dublin Street overbridge is going to greatly help traffic flow through the southern part of Waitohi Picton, and facilitate a better connection through to the town centre.’’
He said the bridge would include a shared path to enable walking and cycling connections between Picton town centre and the Queen Charlotte Drive intersection.
KiwiRail’s iReX, or ‘Interisland Resilient Connection’ project, involved the development of a new multi-million dollar ferry terminal in Picton, which would be able to cater for larger and more environmentally friendly ferries that were set to arrive in the country by 2025 and 2026.
Dublin St reopened to traffic for the day on October 26 to accommodate the arrival of the first cruise ship to arrive in Marlborough in over two years, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.
Cruise ships arriving in Picton docked at nearby Shakespeare Bay, and Dublin St provided the most direct route for buses containing tourists from the boats heading into town.
It was, however, unclear whether the road would reopen every time a cruise ship arrived between now and Christmas.
‘‘The project team is mindful of busy times, including when cruise ships are scheduled to be in town, and will keep working with Port Marlborough and Marlborough Roads, businesses and the community to minimise disruption,’’ Singh said. ‘‘However, there could be some days when it is not possible or safe to open the street if the work underway is very close to the level crossing.’’
On the day Ovation of the Seas arrived in Picton, locals were just looking forward to the road getting finished.
Paris Forbes said apart from having to ‘‘divert our volunteer firefighters’’, as the Picton Fire Station was on Dublin St, the roadworks were ‘‘good for the town ... good for the port’’.
‘‘It’s going to be great once it’s all done,’’ she said.
Owner of Picton Sportsworld Laurie Stevens said he wasn’t concerned about the roadworks on Dublin St, saying ‘‘you’ve just got to put up with these things’’.
‘‘If you want progress, you’ve got to put up with it, it’s not something where you can flick a switch, and it happens overnight,’’ he said.
But Picton Business Group chairman Graham Gosling said the roadworks were a ‘‘concern to some people’’ in town, but thought ‘‘there can’t be a lot done about it’’.
‘‘There are a few cones, but every street in New Zealand’s got cones on it, and every highway.’’
He thought it was good the road opened to traffic for the day on October 26, and said it had also been open to the public on Labour Day weekend.
‘‘Especially for the buses, because they bus everybody across there,’’ he said.
Work to get the town ‘‘pretty well spick and span’’ had been going on in the lead up to the big cruise ship comeback, including wooden benches and bollards on High St being re-stained, he said.
‘‘We’ve just made an effort, a good effort, and that’s by everybody,’’ he said.
There were also plans for shade sails at the cruise ship passenger marshalling area on Auckland St.
‘‘Picton Business Group, at annual plans, probably for the last couple of years, have been asking for some of these things, and they’re all coming to fruition this year,’’ Gosling said.