"A lot of businesses did it tough ... so it's good to get the city heart back to what it was."
High Street business owner Tarshar Baker voiced a sentiment heard more than once on Saturday morning during celebrations to mark the completion of Wodonga's $20 million central infrastructure project.
While leading the official ribbon cutting ceremony, Wodonga councillor Brian Mitchell recognised the development to revamp the city centre had caused major disruptions for traders at times.
"This day is about acknowledging the changes and challenges, at the same time reiterating there is no time like the present to support our businesses and enjoy our city living," he said.
Senator Bridget McKenzie, whose speech was read out after weather-related flight delays thwarted her plans to attend, also urged people to shop in the revitalised High Street.
"What Wodonga has now is a vibrant, pulsating heart of family-friendly open spaces," she wrote.
"It will be a legacy for generations."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Added to the central business district are 46 new planter boxes, 100 new trees, 21 seats, three pedestrian zebra crossings and 200 tree uplights.
Deputy mayor Kat Bennett applauded the use of 134,000 recycled pavers.
"We're trying to have more of a circular economy, so it's great to actually be using that in our big infrastructure projects," she said.
But Saturday's opening also highlighted less obvious changes, like the 1495 metres of new pipes to upgrade drainage and water mains.
The morning included craft, face painting, balloons, a roving magician with his own rabbit and two armoured vehicles on display.
Wodonga resident Celia Chisholm, who stopped with her three boys to look at the army vehicles, called the new High Street a big improvement on the past.
"It's open and easier to get through," she said.
"It just looks nicer too, all one level, finally."
Nearby at Corner Cafe Co, owner Ms Baker was just pleased to see people out in the street again.
"It's nice seeing the cars drive past," she said.
"And we've been able to commence our delivery service now because we actually can pull up out the front and then take off."
North East state and federal politicians joined Wodonga councillors for the opening ceremony at Woodland Grove.
Funding for the project came from the federal ($9,235,340) and Victorian ($2 million) governments and Wodonga Council ($8,764,660).