By Max Friedman, Niseko Promotion Board
The long-awaited renovation to Hirafu-Zaka Street broke ground this summer, starting at the top of the street with workers making preparations to bury power lines.
We all relate to the delight of coming across new changes in Niseko each winter. In the seven months between each season, building projects rise up into the air, signs vanish and new ones pop up, and the mountain and its trails provide a new experience year-to-year. Even checking the new trail map offers a small thrill.
Imagine the thrill of stepping off a bus into a Hirafu unobstructed by power lines. Freestanding lights will shine on a road and sidewalks cleared of snow at all times of day by underground heating.
This year, workers buried 100 meters of conduit and cable boxes for power lines that will be moved underground. As work progresses, these workers will continue burying the bright orange conduits down to the traffic lights. Once complete, the current power lines weaving overhead on Hirafu-Zaka Street will be replaced with new, underground lines.
Simultaneously, workers will install 3.5-meter-wide heated sidewalks and curbs on either side of a newly paved road, also with its own underground heating system. Finally, the former power poles along the main street will be permanently removed, replaced by trees and numerous streetlights illuminating the road and sidewalks.
From its inception, the Hirafu-zaka project has been a community effort, and although the time donated is impossible to calculate, we all look forward to a manicured summer street and safer, more attractive winter thoroughfare in the near future.