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East-end residents welcome safety of new Rodney St. sidewalk

'Everybody used to walk on the road and I was amazed we didn’t kill anybody along the way,' ward councillor says of recently completed project
The new Rodney Street sidewalk, heading toward the stairs.

What’s made of concrete, 1.8 metres wide, 122 metres long and is making a world of difference to the safety of walkers in a Barrie neighbourhood?

A single city sidewalk, of course.

Just finished, it runs on the west side of Rodney Street from Blake to Collingwood streets.

“I think it’s awesome,” said area resident Susan McFadden, who was out walking her golden doodle Eddie. “It was so dangerous walking down here. (The sidewalk) will make it much better going up and down the street.”

Using the sidewalk was a new experience for Charlene Vegter and Lois Magneson, also area residents, who had walked down the stairs where Rodney Street curves into Collingwood.

Taking a walk on the new Rodney Street sidewalk in Barrie. | Bob Bruton /BarrieToday

“This is the first time we have used it,” Vegter said of the new sidewalk. “This makes total sense. It’s a nice connection (to the stairs).”

“It’s safe and I don’t have to walk on the road anymore,” said Magneson.

Ward 1 Coun. Clare Riepma, who represents this part of Barrie, said it’s all about the safety.

“Everybody used to walk on the road and I was amazed we didn’t kill anybody along the way,” he said. “To get to the Rodney Street stairs from Blake, people had to walk on the road. It was especially concerning for children taking the stairs to Codrington Public School.

“No more walking on the road.”

Riepma said it was a difficult project because the work space was tight and there was a need to maintain access for four houses, while working on a hill.

“The project just finished. We have, what is it, 400 feet of sidewalk — which was a really tough little job,” he said.

The sidewalk will add pedestrian safety and accessibility to the area by connecting the stairs from the northern section of Rodney Street down to Blake Street, according to city staff.

This project also includes reducing the road width to 7.5 metres  from 8.5 metres, paving the southbound lane of Rodney, which is east of St. Vincent Street, and necessary boulevard restorations.

The Rodney Street sidewalk is part of an annual program to install sidewalks throughout Barrie which targets small, missing sidewalk links in areas near schools and high-traffic areas. This sidewalk connects Blake Street to the stairs leading to the upper section of Rodney at White Pine Place.  

The project has a total budget of $610,000.  

City staff say the contractor will return in the spring to complete some final restorations and cleanup work.