THE Hokkaido Government has given the green light to fund a complete facelift of Hirafu’s main street.
The Department of Roads recently approved the principle and appropriated funds for a master-planned project to redevelop Hirafu-Zaka Street which, once implemented, will set a platform for Niseko’s growth as an international ski resort.
Riccardo Tossani Architecture has been commissioned to design the project, which was originally commissioned by the Niseko Promotion Board (NPB).
Tossani said the master plan would bring considerable economic benefits to the local business community and provide better and safer amenities for visitors and the general public, as well as establish a stronger brand image for Grand Hirafu.
“The project consists of under-grounding all infrastructure, road and sidewalk heating, and landscaping with trees and themed paving,” he said.
“There will be custom-designed street furniture including light poles, directional signs, benches, kiosks, bus shelters and other characteristic elements.”
Hokkaido Government roads sub-section chief Kyouno Hidetaka said the master plan meant good things for the future of Hirafu and Hokkaido in general.
“Hokkaido’s tourism industry is as important as farming for the local people,” he said.
“The economy is improving because of people visiting this area. We believe providing a maintained road for locals and visitors and improving the appearance of the main street will help us gain more tourism in the area.”
Kyouno-san said the street redesign would see Niseko become a showpiece for Hokkaido tourism.
“This area is gathering attention from overseas because of the great powder snow," Hidetaka said.
“We’d like this area to be Hokkaido’s tourism symbol. We want to keep the original uniqueness of the area.
“We also wanted to make sure that both pedestrians and motorists on Hirafu’s main street are safe. This is a busy main road and it is important to have a footpath for pedestrians, while keeping an efficient road for smooth traffic flow."
Detailed presentations on design and schedule will be made by RTA and the Hokkaido Government to the local communities in spring 2010.
Tossani said detailed design was underway with engineering consultants, and permitting is expected to be completed in 2010.
He said construction would begin in 2011, and it was hoped the project would be completed by winter 2011, or soon thereafter.
Tossani encouraged the Niseko public and business community to continue to show enthusiasm and support for the Hirafu master plan.