The following FAQs were prepared by the City of Ottawa:
The City undertook the Main Street Renewal project because the existing street infrastructure has reached the end of its life-cycle, and requires renewal. In line with similar City construction projects, the design team undertook a new roadway design, recognizing the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan directions for the city. The design team undertook the preparation of a design that balanced requirements for general traffic, parking, traffic calming, cycling, and pedestrian/sidewalk needs.
The project was undertaken according to the process of a 'Schedule C' Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA). This process enabled the City to evaluate a wide range of potential alternative designs for Main Street. It also enabled the opportunity to address recognized problems with the street, namely substandard pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and a speeding problem particularly at the south end of the corridor.
In the EA's evaluation of five alternative designs for Main Street, the study team utilized a broad range of criteria in the categories of:
- Land Use, Urban Design and Community Sustainability;
- Transportation Sustainability, and,
- Natural and Physical Sustainability.
The planning process was undertaken in conjunction with consultation with the Working Group, members of the public, municipal staff, and stakeholders. The design that was preferred through the EA process was a 'complete street' design, which places a priority on walking, cycling, and public transit. Main Street has a limited right of way and as such, to accommodate the priority, it is necessary to reduce the number of vehicle lanes in sections of Main Street.
On July 5th, 2013, the City's Transportation Committee reviewed the results of the Main Street Renewal EA, and voted in favour of the preferred complete street design. On July 17th, 2013, City Council approved the complete street design for Main Street and directed staff to complete detailed designs for the project. The Environmental Study Report, which summarized the findings of the EA, was subsequently placed in a 30 day public review period, during which no further comments were received. Following the approval of the complete street design, the study team continued to meet with the Working Group and individual stakeholders to refine the design.
The evaluation criteria reflected the policy direction and vision of Main Street as a Traditional Mainstreet, as well as important transportation parameters such as the comfort and safety of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and vehicles.
Based on the criteria-based evaluation of alternative designs, the selected design for the Main Street Renewal project is a 'complete street' design with cycle tracks. Benefits of the new street design include:
- Supporting a healthy business environment with high quality sidewalks, cycling facilities, and 24 hour parking in protected bays;
- Providing the most inclusive cycling facility (cycle track);
- Enabling space for improvements to community character and landscaping;
- Promoting pedestrian safety due to separation of sidewalk from vehicle lanes;
- Reducing motor vehicle speed due to narrowing of roadway and road geometry; and,
- Increasing the separation between motor vehicles and residences.
Certainly, the implications to vehicle traffic flow was an integral part of the EA, and the traffic analysis considered the expected future growth on the Main Street corridor, but also the need to mitigate the speeding issue, in relation to the safety and comfort for all users of the street.
As part of the Environmental Assessment, a traffic analysis was undertaken to assess the reduced lane scenario on Main Street, in comparison to existing traffic volumes. The traffic analysis found that current traffic volumes on Main Street are between 900 and 1,200 vehicles per direction in the peak hour, but is substantially below capacity outside of peak periods. The capacity of the reconstructed Main Street is approximately 900 vehicles per hour, per direction. The expected short-term response to the lane reduction on Main Street is a modest increase in non-auto modal share (moving 100 veh/h), some travel outside the peak hour (moving 50 veh/h), and diversion of traffic to other corridors (moving 150 veh/h, predominantly to Riverside Drive, which has some spare peak hour capacity).
Looking to the future as part of the City's larger 2031 Transportation Master Plan, the City objectives are to increase the modal share for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Due to the significant infrastructure investments occurring across the city, there are also new investments that will reduce vehicular traffic on Main Street. These include the O-Train Confederation Line LRT, Alta Vista Transportation Corridor, and further investments in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure such as a new bridge across the Rideau Canal at Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street. The Oblate lands development is accounted for with a 20% increase in person activity. This set of assumptions results in a net reduction in auto traffic on Main Street of approximately 700 veh/h, and therefore, no additional diversion would be required. In an alternate scenario with a less aggressive shift away from auto driver modes, 200 veh/h would be expected to be diverted in a combination of travel outside of peak hour and usage of alternate routes.
Consultation was integral to the Main Street Renewal project's planning and design processes. Guidance was provided by a Street Design Working Group. This committee includes representation from various City branches, local businesses, residents, community organizations, and the Ward Councillor's office. The Working Group met 20 times between September 2012 and December 2014, to help the City make key design decisions, and address specific community concerns. In terms of opportunities for public engagement, the first Public Open House for the Main Street Renewal project was held on October 17th, 2012. Information presented included existing conditions, the need for the project, and the general "solution" for the street being a renewal of the street infrastructure. Subsequently, Public Open Houses were held on June 17, 2013 in Capital Ward, and June 18, 2013 in the Gloucester-Southgate Ward to present the EA evaluation results, the preliminary preferred design, and its implications for travel and streetscaping.
On July 5th, 2013, the City's Transportation Committee reviewed the results of the Main Street Renewal EA, and voted to endorse the preferred complete street design. The Transportation Committee provided an opportunity for community input, and 5 written submissions were received and 6 delegations were made. On July 17th, 2013, City Council approved the complete street design for Main Street and directed staff to complete detailed designs for the project. The Environmental Study Report summarizing the findings of the EA, was available to the public for a 30 day review period, during which no further comments were received.
Following the approval of the complete street design, the study team continued to meet with the Working Group and individual stakeholders to refine the design. A third open house was held on November 20th, 2014.
The construction period will run from the spring of 2015 (most likely the month of May) until the summer of 2017. Advanced utility works by Bell Canada began in November 2014 in order to streamline the completion of works that need to be undertaken before full road reconstruction begins.
The reconstruction of Main Street will require detours for vehicles, transit and cyclists. Detours are required as a safety measure primarily around the construction excavations required to replace the underground infrastructure.
- One lane of southbound traffic will be maintained on Main Street, except for the section between Hawthorne Avenue and Lees Avenue. The southbound direction will remain open to traffic on Main Street to maintain direct access to the hospital.
- When northbound travel is unavailable, vehicle traffic will be detoured to Riverside Drive and Bank Street.
- When northbound traffic is unavailable north of Clegg, transit traffic will be detoured via Clegg Street/Colonel By Drive.
- When northbound traffic is unavailable north of Riverdale Avenue, transit traffic will be detoured via Elliot Avenue/Marlowe Crescent/Clegg Street/Colonel By Drive.
- Local traffic will be permitted to continue using local streets. Cyclists will be detoured via Mutchmor Road/Echo Drive.
- There will also be a full closure of Main Street between Hawthorne Avenue and Lees Avenue for a maximum of two weeks. This closure will occur sometime between July 3rd and August 24th, 2015.
Please note that the above detour information is preliminary and subject to change. General construction information and additional detour information will be provided at a Public Open House to be held before construction start. The City of Ottawa will also communicate more accurate traffic impacts and schedules closer to the actual construction activity.