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Traffic flying along Ferndale becoming problematic, says pilot

'As a resident in the area, it's obvious that almost everyone travels that hill way too fast,' says Barrie man

A Barrie resident who lives on the steep, busy hill that is Ferndale Drive South hopes people will watch their speed and be respectful of others living in the area.

Doug Cochrane, who lives at 430 Ferndale Dr. S., tells BarrieToday he has witnessed several collisions and near-misses between Essa and Ardagh roads.

The Air Canada pilot said he witnessed a significant crash at Stroud Place and Ferndale Drive on May 30.

“The woman in the accident was set up by the well-meaning drivers around her. The long line of cars in the left southbound lane paused and encouraged her to make her left turn," he said. "Unfortunately, another woman travelling southbound in the right-most lane was unaware of this magnanimous gesture as she charged up the hill, at an illegal speed, and drove right into the first woman.” 

Cochrane doesn’t believe anyone was seriously hurt in the collision, but says it could have been much worse.

“Superficially, the responsible party was the woman trying to exit left from Stroud (Place) northbound onto Ferndale, but there's lots of blame to go around,” he said. “As a resident in the area, it's obvious that almost everyone travels that hill way too fast. Left turns onto Cummings (Drive), into the apartment building beside Cummings or onto Hawthorne Crescent, are awkward exercises. Left turns out of those places onto Ferndale are downright dangerous.” 

Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon told BarrieToday the area is one that officers are aware of and they do enforcement.

“I think the more construction work we have, we will begin to see people’s creativity as to how they get around the city,” Leon said. “Because of the north-south configuration (of the city), people are aware that at certain times of the day there are back-ups on the exit ramps from Highway 400 to Essa Road.

"It will likely get a little worse as there is some work being done and continuing to be done in the coming weeks on that overpass," he added. 

Cochrane said the design of Ferndale Drive itself sets up dangerous situations. 

“The curve of the road and the slope of the hill create a situation of reduced visibility at a place where drivers always seem inclined to accelerate,” he said. “There should be another set of traffic lights somewhere along the hill, perhaps at Cummings.

"Our city's civil engineers need to take human nature into account and force drivers to slow along this stretch of road," Cochrane added. 

Ward 6 Coun. Nigussie Nigussie, who represents this part of the city, told BarrieToday that speeding along Ferndale has been brought to his attention previously. 

"I am well aware of the speeding problem on Ferndale, which is probably one of the most problematic roads in my ward," he said.

"It is crucial to address these issues to ensure the safety of residents and drivers in the area," Nigussie added. "That's why I'm working with (Barrie police) to increase police visibility and patrols on the road. Additionally, a speed radar camera is on the way, and I hope this will be a significant step forward in curbing reckless driving."

Leon said people should always be mindful of their speed when travelling anywhere in Barrie. 

“As I always say, if you know you’re heading out at a busy time of day, especially in our city where so much road work is being done, give yourself some extra time,” he said. “When drivers feel pressured, that's when aggressive driving begins to take the better of someone and then we have collisions.”

Cochrane pointed out the centre of the road to BarrieToday this morning and particularly the lack of a turning lane into his complex.

“There are times I’m making a left into my building and I’m hoping those (drivers) coming down the hill see me and slow down or stop,” he said. “There is a turning section up the road, and that's good, but it's just how fast people drive up and down this hill that makes parts of the roadway more dangerous.”