on April 14, 2013 by test_editor in April, Archive_2013, Print Articles, Comments Off on April 11, 2013: Who Will Bear the Brunt of Light Rail Construction?

April 11, 2013: Who Will Bear the Brunt of Light Rail Construction?

April 11, 2013: Who Will Bear the Brunt of Light Rail Construction?
By Cheryl Parrott, Hilda O’Meara – Bayview Neighbours Group.

For more than three years, residents immediately adjacent to the Transitway and Scott Street have been asking officials how traffic will be handled during construction of Ottawa’s new light rail line. The Light Rail (LRT) is to be finished in 2018. The most pressing issue has been to identify how buses will be diverted during the five-year construction period.
In the spring of 2009 the Hilda/O’Meara/Bayview Neighbours Group organized an early morning walkabout with local politicians at the municipal, provincial and federal level as well as with City staff. About 30 residents attended. At that time City staff promised that alternative routes to Scott St. were being pursued to divert some of the buses: the Queensway or the Ottawa River Parkway (ORP), for example. At open houses on the LRT, staff reiterated that options were being pursued. As it turns out, the NCC has not been asked for temporary use of the ORP, and the Queensway is not being looked at either.
In mid-February, the Hintonburg Community Association requested a meeting with the City to clarify construction plans. An initial meeting was held March 21 with the City, OC Transpo and the contractor, along with representatives of the Mechanicsville Community Association. That meeting ended with a promise by staff to attend another walkabout. And, staff were encouraging that some buses returning empty downtown from the end of their runs (deadheads) might be diverted from Scott Street. These comprise as much as a quarter of the total bus volume during peak periods according to one OC Transpo representative.
While there are still a number of unknowns, we learned that Scott St. will be widened by three metres to the north to accommodate the width of the buses, and two lanes will be reserved for them. It’s not yet known whether these will run down the curbside or centre lanes. And, the hydro poles on the north side of Scott will be relocated if need be. The multi-use pathway must be maintained and will be moved north if needed.
Diverting buses to the ORP at Tunney’s Pasture would add six to nine minutes more to the commuters’ ride to downtown; this has been deemed “unacceptable” by the City. To our dismay, though, the City feels that diverting 300 buses an hour for two years right by residents’ front doors is not a problem. The City has written financial penalties into the LRT contract: Rideau Transit Group must ensure commuters do not sit on the bus any longer than they do now, or there will be a financial penalty to them.
We are hoping the penalty won’t then be paid by residents living next to Scott Street: for the residents who live there, for the pedestrians who walk on the very narrow sidewalk, and for the school kids and residents crossing Scott. Motorists trying to avoid the congestion of Scott will flood the narrow one-way streets north of Wellington, as well as Armstrong, Wellington and even Gladstone. By the time this diversion happens in 2016, there could well be another 1,000 condo units along Parkdale alone. To keep informed on this issue contact the Hintonburg Community Association at info@hintonburg.com which is working to achieve a solution to this issue.

Scott looking east to Bayview.

Scott looking east to Bayview.

Photo Caption: These front porches, along Scott Street, will not be pleasant spots in the summer, once 300 city buses per hour hurdle past them due to traffic rerouting to accommodate Light Rail Transit construction. Photo by Cheryl Parrott.

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