LRT from Bayshore to Orleans part of city's transit plan

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35 km of new track planned for city's rail system, including 4 new stations in Orleans

CBC News

A second stage of light rail projects including 35 kilometres of new track and 19 new stations will dominate Ottawa's transportation future, Mayor Jim Watson revealed this morning.

Watson addressed city councillors and residents Wednesday in advance of the city's updated transportation master plan, which will be tabled at a joint transportation committee and transit commission meeting at 3 p.m.

The total cost of the plan is expected to be within $2.5 billion and be finished by 2023, Watson said, adding the provincial and federal governments would have to match the city's contribution to fund the plans.

One of the key points, Watson boasted, is that every resident of Orleans would live within five kilometres of light rail with four new stations: St. Joseph, Jeanne D'Arc, Orleans Drive and Place d' Orleans.

"This is a realistic, affordable, effective plan that would move up light rail projects an entire generation and create a true rallying point for our council, our residents and other levels of government," the mayor said.

"By using light rail as a smart growth tool, the city, businesses and communities can better plan for the future together."

Extended Transitway, O-Train stations planned

Here are other light rail and road plans for each area of the city:

East | Rail line extending new Confederation line, set to be finished in 2018, from Blair station to Place d'Orleans. That is in addition to road networks: Blackburn Hamlet Bypass extension and Brian Coburn Boulevard extension.

West | Rail line extending Confederation from Tunney's Pasture station west to Bayshore Shopping Centre and south to Baseline station. Also a new Transitway to Moodie Drive and a new "busway" along March Road to Terry Fox Drive, plus a new four-lane road on Campeau Drive and the widening of both Carp and Old Richmond/West Hunt Club roads along Campeau.

South | Expanded O-Train service with five additional rail stations at Gladstone, Walkley, South Keys, Leitrim and Bowesville, with intersection modifications along Prince of Wales, a widening of the Airport Parkway from Brookfield to Hunt Club, the widening of Strandherd Drive for the creation of a new business park and the Greenbank Road extension between Cambrian and Jockvale.

Other plans for Ottawa's transportation future include:

  • Construction of the Richmond Road underground corridor for western light rail.
  • Bridge from Donald Street in Vanier to Somerset Street East in Sandy Hill.
  • Prince of Wales bridge to Gatineau for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Improvements to East-West Bikeway from Vanier to Westboro.
  • Construction of Nepean Trail and other local cycling routes to connect neighbourhoods from Greenboro to Fisher Heights and Billings Bridge.
  • More winter maintenance of downtown cycling pathways to encourage more seasonal cycling.

The city will hold four public information sessions on the transportation master plan between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.: Oct. 15 at City Hall (downtown), Oct. 17 at the Kanata Recreation Centre, Oct. 22 at the Walter Baker Sports Centre (Barhaven) and Oct. 24 at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex (Orleans).

Debate on the master plan will take place on Oct. 16 and the draft plan will be considered at transportation committee on Nov. 15.

Councillor warms to plans to widen Airport Parkway

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By Derek Spalding, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Plans to widen the Airport Parkway are much easier to accept for one councillor now that he realizes the expansion will be dedicated to high-occupancy vehicles and taxis.

Coun. David Chernushenko expressed disappointment Wednesday when he thought the latest update to the city's transportation master plan would include widening parkway with additional lanes for regular traffic.

The plans for the project were mentioned during a much-anticipated speech that morning from Mayor Jim Watson. Chernushenko has since said he supports widening the road between Brookfield and Hunt Club.

"(The changes) will make taking the bus more attractive," he said after getting more details.

Adding HOV lanes is part of a larger vision for Ottawa's southern communities, which also includes extending the O-Train service with five more rail stations, while making several road changes, all of which are designed to decrease commuting times.

Improved transit service and HOV lanes will hopefully reduce traffic on the busy road, which bottle necks on Bronson Avenue for those heading into the downtown.

"Hopefully, people stuck in their cars will look over at buses passing them on the road and say ... maybe there's a better way," Chernushenko said.

He also applauds plans to extend the O-Train service with five new stations at Gladstone, Walkley, South Keys, Leitrim and Bowesville.

The city's transportation master plan will be tabled at the transportation committee meeting Wednesday afternoon. According to Watson's announcement in the morning, the document will address other road changes to service the city's southern communities, including changes to intersections along Prince of Wales Drive, widening Strandherd Drive and extending the Greenbank Road between Cambrian and Jockvale roads.

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'Forest of condos' planned for east-side transit stations make for bad neighbourhoods, councillor argues

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — The "forest of condos" that Ottawa's city planners want to see built around new east-side light-rail stations will see too many people packed into too little space with too few ways to form new communities, says the councillor whose ward is slated to get the tallest of them.

The city is working its way through its second batch of "transit-oriented development" (TOD) plans, major rezonings of vacant and underused space around transit stations from Lees to Blair, aimed at taking maximum advantage of the high-capacity transit system it's building. They include plans to let builders construct towers of 20 and 30 storeys, and even taller ones at Lees — including one plot of land right next to the station that the planners think should have a 45-storey building. That would make it the tallest thing the City of Ottawa has ever zoned for without being asked by a developer first, and potentially second only to a pair of 48-storey buildings Richcraft has proposed for the south end of Little Italy.

And it's too much, said Coun. David Chernushenko, whose Capital ward includes the land around Lees station.

"It's one thing to say more height is needed, more density equals more height, but I think we've found all over the world that neighbourhoods of skyscrapers ... they're just not good socially," Chernushenko said. "In the past they've been associated with crime, social problems. They don't have to be. You can have nice expensive buildings. But they certainly aren't places where you know your neighbours and have a neighbourhood feel."

It should be possible to see enough people move in to make maximum use of the new rail system by restricting building heights to something like eight storeys, Chernushenko suggested, if there are enough of them. The city considers 600 metres to be a reasonable walking distance to a major transit station but it's largely restricting its rezonings to much shorter distances than that so as to leave existing neighbourhoods untouched, or nearly so. That means taller buildings close to the stations.

There's no magic number of floors where a condo tower becomes too isolating, Chernushenko said, but a neighbourhood dominated by 30- and 40-storey buildings won't be much of a neighbourhood.

Besides Lees, Hurdman station across the Rideau River and Blair station farther east are getting TOD treatment to make room for 80,000 people over the next few generations. Train, Cyrville and St-Laurent stations got similar plans a year ago, with a minimum of controversy because the city focused on empty land, box-store complexes and strip malls whose owners were mostly delighted to see their property shoot up in development potential. At Lees, indeed, the plot tentatively designated for a 45-storey tower is owned by the city.

For Chernushenko, there's an extra wrinkle there: the plan preserves land for the northern end of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor, a major new north-south artery that's been on the books for decades and includes a new bridge across the Rideau to connect Riverside Drive to Nicholas Street and ferry cars to and from downtown. Assuming it's eventually built, it'll carve another new path through land already cut up by Highway 417, the LRT route and the Rideau River.

"So far the way the communities are designed really assumes this is going to be a wide, fast-moving corridor, essentially a flyover. We've been to places in cities where you've got a wide road going over a park and a neighbourhood. It's just not a pleasant design," Chernushenko said. If the Alta Vista artery needs to be built, it should be built lower and hook into the streets in the area, not soar overhead so it shoots cars onto Nicholas Street as fast as possible, he said.

The city's planning department is to present its final plans for the land around Lees, Hurdman and Blair stations in November; at about the same time, city council's transportation committee is to debate the long-term master plan for transportation in Ottawa (Mayor Jim Watson is giving a major speech on it on Wednesday, revealing the results of months of work to update it). Chernushenko said he'll be taking up his concerns with the zoning and the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor with both of them.

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Month-long lane reductions on Bank Street begin Monday

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By Meghan Hurley, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Motorists can expect traffic delays on Bank Street when lane reductions come into effect Monday to resurface the road.

For a month, lanes will be reduced between Alta Vista and Riverside drives during off-peak hours.

Lane reductions will be in place on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and again between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

On weekends, lanes will be reduced after 5 p.m. and will reopen at 10:30 a.m.

Lane reductions will also be in effect during the same period on Daze Street.

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