Residents and business owners in the south end of Barrie can expect some relief from traffic congestion in the coming years.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, along with city councillors and project planners, posed for a photo op at the end of Harvie Road in the city’s south end, to mark the official groundbreaking for a long-awaited construction project.
Currently, the dead end of Harvie Road looks onto Highway 400, but in two years, the site will be a bridge which will allow drivers to cross over Highway 400 to Big Bay Point Road.
Lehman says while it has been a long road to get to this point, the development is very important, and much needed.
“This is a very, very significant day for anybody who tries to get around the south end of Barrie. That includes our businesses in this area, and of course the many, many residents who will ultimately benefit from this project,” he said.
Currently, there is no mid-block crossing in Barrie between the Mapleview and Essa interchanges. Due to the lack of crossing, the south end of the city has been suffering from major traffic congestion for many years.
Lehman says the crossing will not only alleviate congestion for residents but will make it easier to get to the industrial area of Barrie.
“It’s so important because the south end is our industrial area, the primary industrial area of the city. There are many, many companies who need to get their goods out to market and get their supplies into their company, and through the interchanges through the roads in this area, and the congestion … in the last … 20 years — particularly at Mapleview and the 400 — has been an inhibition to the businesses and their growth,” Lehman said.
In terms of how this crossing will be funded, Lehman says as with all road-related projects, the money comes from development charges as well as taxpayers. “There’s a formula, and the funding is split between those two,” he said.
Lehman says work on this project actually began several months ago, with planning and very initial steps occurring back in March. However, residents will see more active construction beginning in the next few weeks.
Lehman says the city is not anticipating any delays on Highway 400 as a result of the work.
“One of the nice things about building a bridge for roads that aren’t a connection today, is that you’re not causing any disruption to any existing traffic because there isn’t any.”
According to Lehman, the majority of the overhead work will be done overnight, to minimize disruptions. “We don’t anticipate this is really going to mess up the highway much at all, there will be a few lane restrictions in the middle of the night kind of thing but hopefully that’s it.”
Major construction of the bridge pieces is scheduled to begin later this year. Overall, the project is expected to take two years, and should be open by fall of 2020.