Main St. transformation begins

on .

Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Downtown commuters, prepare to be exiled from Main St.

It will be one of the most disruptive road construction projects in Ottawa as the city redesigns the busy 2-km thoroughfare in Old Ottawa East.

Work has already started but major road closures are expected to begin later this month.

The hallmark of the redesign is the "complete street" treatment. It's a buzz term that describes designing a street for all road users: Pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motorists.

The city is holding an open house Monday at St. Paul University, Laframbroise Hall, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to go over two years of construction work, the detours and the final designs.

You have questions.

We have some answers.

Why is the city tearing up Main St.?
Everything about the corridor is old. The street, the surface utilities and the infrastructure below ground need a serious refresh. The sidewalks are pushed up against the road and narrow in some spots, even below the 1.8-m accessibility threshold. Many cyclists ride on the sidewalks rather than the road because the curb lane is also narrow.

How busy is Main St.?
It's a major corridor to the downtown that provides access options to both sides of the Rideau Canal, either via Hawthorne Ave. or Colonel By Dr. During the peak times there are 1,200 cars an hour driving down the street in one direction. The average travel time at the peak periods is 3-5 minutes through the entire corridor. In the off-peak hours, the city has recorded excessive speeds in the posted 50 km/h zone south of Clegg St. Up to 350 cyclists ride on Main St. daily.

Why is Main St. so special?
It functions as both an arterial road at the south end and a traditional mainstreet at the north end. It's supposed to carry large amounts of traffic but also be friendly to other modes of travel. Main St. is considered a top-tier cycling route. That's why the city wants to make it a complete street.

What's the complete street treatment?
Council approved a design that includes distinct cycle tracks and wider sidewalks with better streetscaping. The number of vehicle lanes will be reduced through the central and south sections, in some parts from four lanes to two, plus turn lanes. The city is banking on motorists choosing a different mode of transportation or finding another route. The city expects to see cycling traffic grow to 1,000-1,500 daily when the bike infrastructure is ready.

Twitter: @JonathanWilling

What to know

Road closures will be different in six sections of Main St., with intermittent closures through 2016 and 2017:

  • Starting at the northern end, there will be mostly only southbound traffic between Echo and Greenfield.
  • Greenfield to Hawthorne: There will be no northbound traffic starting mid-June.
  • Hawthorne to Lees: One lane in each direction open, except for two weeks in summer 2015.
  • Lees to Clegg: No northbound traffic. All lanes open in summer 2016, followed by intermittent closures.
  • Clegg to Riverside: One lane in each direction open, except for six-month northbound lane closure in 2015 or 2016.
  • Riverdale to McIlraith Bridge: One lane in each direction open.
  • Northbound traffic will need to use Bank St. to access the core via Riverside Dr. or Sunnyside Dr. via Riverdale Ave.
  • Cyclists who normally use Main St. will need to navigate around construction on the neighbourhood roads: Mutchmor Rd., Echo Dr. and Graham Ave.