A section of the popular Corner Brook stream walking trail is getting a major upgrade with the installation of a switchback-style path that replaces a 35-year-old rotting wooden staircase.
The new zigzag trek down the steep hill will provide better access to the trail system that wraps around the city centre.
The iconic view of the Glynmill Inn Pond has not changed, but the main entrance currently looks like a steep embankment covered in stone as crews with the Corner Brook Stream Trail Development Corporation dig and construct this new pathway.
"Given the cost of lumber of the cost of construction, it was economically feasible to go this route," said Brent Humphries, executive director of the development corporation.
"The stairs were an impediment to people with mobility issue, young families with strollers, people with dogs, et cetera. It was a greater fit all around."
The switchback trail system is three to four times cheaper than replacing the wooden stairs, according to Humphries.
While that particular entrance to the trail is closed off while crews work, walkers like Deirdre MacDonnell pop by it regularly to see the progress.
"I'm sure whoever designed it kept in mind having the proper grade for wheelchairs. I think it's important for our community to have a more accessible walking path," she said.
Removing the stairs and installing the new switchback trail system is part of a $316,000 budget to improve access to this part of the trail system in the centre of the city.
While the stairs were dismantled over a week ago, the work to lower the grade and reinforce the trail will take at least four weeks.
Lowering the grade
Humphries says revamping the grade has posed a challenge, however. "Instead of going directly vertical, you make long sweeping turns on the way down, switch back turns on each corner. It takes longer to get down, but it's a lesser grade," he said.
The project requires hundreds of sandbags to build strong retaining walls that will eventually be covered in seed. The whole area will eventually look like a grassy embankment.
Despite the disruption, another onlooker expressed his approval.
"A lot of families walk this trail. We want to make sure that families with little kids are able to go along with their strollers," said avid hiker Ken Ralph.