Hunter Street businesses experience first day in Newcastle light rail works zone

CLEAR PATH: A scooter rider crosses Hunter Street on Tuesday after work began on the light rail project. A section of the street between Auckland and Darby streets is closed to traffic. Picture: Marina NeilIt didn’t take long for some CBD businesses to feel the pinch of Newcastle’s light rail construction.
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Work on the Hunter Street part of the major projectstarted on Tuesday and is expected to keep a stretch of the city’s main street off-limitsto traffic until the end of the year.

Business owners on the closed part of Hunter Street, between Auckland and Darby streets, are bracing for a challenging three months as they figure out how to adapt to the new conditions.

Tanya Corradi, from NNT Uniforms, was openly critical of the work on Tuesday morning.

Hunter Street stretch ‘like a ghost town’ Not happy: Sharlene Lipnicki and Tanya Corradi from NNT Uniforms say the business has already had a drop in customer numbers since Hunter Street was closed for light rail construction. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

In Progress: A map showing planned light rail work up to 2019. Construction crews moved into Hunter Street, between Auckland and Darby streets, on Monday.

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookHerald also spoke with other Hunter Street business owners who would not speak publicly about their concerns.

Traffic at the Auckland St detour as #Newcastle light rail work kicks off on Hunter St @newcastleheraldpic.twitter成都夜总会招聘/3xubDDRdah

— Nick Bielby (@nickbielby) September 11, 2017

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he was excited to see Newcastle transform, but acknowledged the challenges.

“With all major construction there is some disruption,” he said.

“I won’t pretend there won’t be some short-term pain, but there will be long-term gain at the end.

“Our experience is that drivers will see traffic settle down once everyone gets used to the changes.

“In less than two years, Newcastle light rail will be part of everyday life.”

A Newcastle Now spokesperson said the CBD business advocacy group had received varying reports about travel times on Tuesday morning.

“There was noticeable traffic congestionduring the morning peak hour, however, we expect that drivers will quickly work out their most efficient way into the city by altering their start time, travel route, car pooling or even using a park-and-ride option,” she said.

“It is still very easy to walk around the city, particularly along Hunter Street.”

After the stretch between Auckland and Darby streets is complete in December, work will shuffle down Hunter Street to a patch between Worth Place and Auckland Street.

Work on Scott Street, between Pacific and Telford streets, is also expected to begin in December.

Construction between Crown and Perkins streets is scheduled to begin in November and work between Crown and Darby streets is due to start next year.

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