- Airport Parkway widening north of Hunt Club road
- Building a new four-lane road between Orléans Boulevard and Navan Road
- Widening Mer Bleue Road from two to four lanes between Brian Coburn Boulevard and Renaud Road
- Realigning Palladium Drive in the vicinity of Huntmar Road to a new north-south arterial
- Building a new underpass on Earl Grey Drive where it meets Terry Fox Drive
One of the most serious and longstanding transportation planning issues in Ottawa has been the problem of the volume of interprovincial heavy trucks traversing Ottawa's downtown to reach the Macdonald-Cartier bridge (2600 trucks/day), and to a lesser extent (1000 trucks/day) traversing the Dalhousie ward to reach the Chaudieres bridge.
The interprovincial crossings project was undertaken between 2007 and 2013 to determine a location for a new bridge across the Ottawa River which was to serve as an additional truck route to help alleviate the downtown truck problems.
This project ended in June 2013 with no satisfactory resolution to the location for a new bridge and all progress towards a solution to the downtown truck problem stopped.
In the fall of 2013 the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Transport announced their intention to explore the feasibility of a downtown tunnel between the 417 and the Macdonald-Cartier bridge as a potential solution to this problem.
There had been many calls from the community to include this alternative as part of the analysis undertaken in the interprovincial crossings project. However any serious study of this option was discounted because of the importance that was placed on moving forward with a project that would add new capacity for interprovincial car traffic.
In April of 2014, the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Transport moved forward on their commitment by releasing an RFP to solicit a consultant to perform the tunnel feasibility study. The final report was listed as a 2015-2018 Term of Council priority to be released by Q1 of 2016.
In June 2016 the release of the report was delayed until Fall 2016 with the reason given being that more time was required to refine some of the technical details of the report.
The report was released in Aug 2016 and concluded that a tunnel could be feasibly constructed along a route between the Vanier Parkway near Coventry Road and the Macdonald-Cartier bridge. If available today the Study confirmed that it would divert 1700 trucks per day and up to 25,000 cars per day off of downtown streets. This information and its associated analysis is provided in this Tunnel Feasibility Study Transportation Report.
Click here for further details on the downtown truck tunnel feasibility study details
In 2007, the NCC together with the Ontario and Quebec Ministries of Transport commissioned an extensive multi-phase study to determine a location for a new crossing of the Ottawa River. They shortlisted 3 possible bridge corridors in the east of the National Capital Region and discounted all potential west end bridge locations. An east end bridge was intended to add significant new capacity to accommodate projected increases in peak period auto demand as well as to provide a new route for heavy trucks to cross the Ottawa River. Initial estimates projected the overall cost of the project to be $400m to $500m (Updated as of May 2013 to 1.1B$) making it one of the largest road projects in Ottawa in decades.
The project has many opponents who do not wish a new heavy truck route situated near their communities. Meanwhile others believe that the proposed new bridges would not provide an adequate truck route which would actually alleviate the problem of 3600 trucks per day travelling through downtown Ottawa streets (2600 on Rideau/King Edward and 1000 on Preston/Bronson/Scott).
The CCC participated in the Public Consultation Group (PCG) and maintained that the primary focus for any new inter-provincial project should be to provide a viable solution to the problem of interprovincial trucks in the downtown residential communities and that any solution that simply spreads the trucks into other communities and without fully resolving the downtown problem is not acceptable. Thee CCC advocated that alternatives that could provide a better solution to this truck problem needed to be more fully investigated. In 2013 the Province of Ontario terminated their involvement in this study and shortly thereafter jointly funded a feasibility study for a downtown truck tunnel. The CCC played a role in finally convincing the authorities that they had not yet sufficiently 'done the homework' that should have been started in 2007.Return to top of this page
Update: Sep 2016 - Environmental Assessment Approved by City Council
The consultant completed their environmental assessment (EA) study for this project in the spring of 2016 and a report was brought to City council in June. The EA was accepted by council in a vote of 18 for and 5 against. Numerous delegations spoke at Transportation Committee asking the project to be delayed until post-2023 when the Trillium transit line is to be extended to and beyond the airport. One of the CCC member associations submitted these public comments to the Committee. Another contentious element of the project is the proposal to add a new southbound off-ramp from the Parkway to Walkley Rd. Numerous local groups opposed this plan because of the potential for additional cut-through traffic in adjacent communities.
The EA in the form of the "Environmental Study Report - ESR' was posted for a 30 day review period in Sep 2016 for further public comment at which point it is likely to be considered 'approved' by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment . At that point the City may go ahead with the project. It is not clear when the City of Ottawa will propose to commence construction.
More public debate is required to determine whether its implementation can be justified prior to extending the Trillium transit line to and beyond the airport (which is planned for 2023).
As part of the EA, the City released the Airport Parkway Needs Assessment document outlining the traffic projections and arguments for why this road widening project is needed.
Update: Jan 2016 - Phase 1 delayed until post 2020
An Ottawa Citizen article reported a Nov 2015 internal city memo that stated that as a result of lower than expected collections of development charges that funding would not be available to start this project until at least 2020 or possibly even longer. That represents a delay of several years from the original plan.
Just a few more years of delay and it just may be possible to realize our preferred plan to have the Trillium Line extension to south of the Airport (planned for 2023) completed first and to evaluate the timing/need for the road expansion once the benefits of the transit expansion can be realized and evaluated. Later in January 2016 the mayor hinted that he would be supportive of re-prioritizing the Trillium line expansion ahead of the road expansion.
Both articles go on to provide the details that the City had expected 43m$ of development charges revenues annually but that going forward a more realistic projection was 26m$ annually. A city official is then quoted as saying "the new reality means that road projects will be introduced at a slower rate to match available funding". This 'new reality' is something that the CCC was already suspicious of starting back in 2012 as discussed in this post.
The 2013 Transportation Master plan pulled forward the proposed date for this project by several years and as a result an Environmental Assessment project was initiated during 2014.
Since the 1980s the City of Ottawa has listed as one of its top priority new road projects an undeveloped corridor joining Conroy Road at Walkley through to a modified Nicholas/417 interchange at the Queensway (including a new 4-lane bridge across the Rideau River). An Environmental Assessment was initiated in 2001.
The project was partitioned into 3 separate stages with the first stage referred to as the "Hospital Link": a connection between Riverside Dr and the north side of the Ottawa Hospital General Campus. A coalition (Citizens for Healthy Communities) was formed in 2001 including representatives from the CCC to oppose this on the basis of the number of additional cars it would dump into the downtown area. The coalition felt any such transportation investments were much better spent on new transit initiatives.
Construction of the AVC Phase 1 - Hospital Link (at a cost of 69m$) was begun. Completion is not expected until at least 2017.
Nov 2013 Update:
In the 2013 TMP the City proposes that the AVC Phases 2 and 3 be delayed until post 2031. The emergence of higher priority roadway needs in combination with a more realistic assessment of costs and expected Development Charge revenues resulted in the `demotion`of the AVTC in terms of implementation timeframe. In the 2008 TMP the Phase 2 of the AVC (Riverside Dr to 417-Nicholas Interchange) was listed as needed for implementation in the 2016 to 2022 timeframe.
This delay is welcome news to the CCC which has opposed this road for decades. We are pleased that the City has finally recognized that it`s (supposed) benefits relative to its costs does not pass the value test. We continue to maintain that the 2011 budget committment of 69m$ to construct Phase 1 (The Hospital Link) was a bad decision that is now even worse given that other phases of this roadway are now delayed for at least another 18 years. Given that as of Nov 2014 the construction had not yet started, the City has a golden opportunity to back off from the Phase 1 roadway and re-prioritize the committed 69m$ for other more useful projects.
See our 2013 TMP Update section for more details.
The City of Ottawa began public consultations towards an environmental assessment (EA) for the construction of this road in 2001. The EA was completed and presented to City council in 2005 and at that time was vigorously opposed by a number of community groups.
As a compromise it was agreed that the road would be broken into 3 phases and that only Phase 1: the "Hospital Link" portion was approved for construction. It was further agreed that 2 more reviews of the Transportation Master Plan (2008 and 2013) would be required before any decision would be taken regarding the remaining 2 phases of the roadway. The coalition opposed to this road appealed to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment that this EA was incomplete and should be subjected to a more rigorous process (bump-up request). In January of 2008 the Ontario Ministry of the Environment denied this ‘bump-up’ request.
The AVC is proposed to be built in several stages and in the 2008 Transportation Master Plan the first stage (called the Hospital Link) was listed as a priority 1 (for implementation by 2015) project. This 1.2 km link would have an intersection with Riverside Drive and then loop around back on itself to rise over an overpass to be constructed over Riverside Drive, then to a second overpass of the Transitway, followed by an underpass of the CN rail line, then to a signalized intersection with Alta Vista drive before continuing on to connect to the hospital ring road on the north side of the hospital. In the proposed 2011 budget, 5m$ was requested for preliminary work and a further 50m$ was committed in 2012 for construction of this 1.2km link. As of Jan 2015 construction of this link had not yet started.
This more detailed Alta Vista Corridor Backgrounder document outlining the history to date behind this project is a valuable reference for those interested in more details.
The CCC reiterated its opposition to this major new artery into downtown with this Hospital Link opposition letter sent to City Council members prior to debating the proposed 2011 budget. The following link will take you to a detailed picture of the Proposed Design for this 69 m$ Hospital Link project. The reason for the high cost for this 1.2km roadway is that it requires an overpass to be built over Riverside Dr and over the southwest bus Transitway and an underpass to be built under the CN rail line. All this just to put in a 1.2km secondary access road with no other use other than dead ending at the Ottawa General Hospital for the next 18 years. If there was a bad infrastructure investment anywhere in Ottawa, surely this is it.
Subsequently, the CCC was actively involved in public consultations for the 2013 update to the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) particularly related to the AVC. It was our contention that the 2021 traffic projections used in 2003 to justify the need for this road have not been materializing as predicted during the 2003-2010 period. (See 2013 Analysis of AVTC Traffic Trends). We requested staff to undertake a thorough analysis of traffic trends and to review the implications of these trends on the original projections used to justify this roadway. Such a review was undertaken and the details summarized in this AVTC Technical Memo. which as one could expect reiterated the need for the project.
More details are available at the AVC Presentation to City Transportation Committee on Sep 21, 2005. This includes a summary report on why the road is needed, alternatives considered, as well as detailed drawings showing the proposed design for the compete roadway from Conroy/Walkley through to a modified Nicholas/417 interchange.
The City of Ottawa’s current (2008) Transportation Master Plan can be seen at:
…and to see the AVC in the proposed list of projects:
The City‟s record of public consultations on the AVC can be found at:
Highlights of the draft design for Elgin Street include:
- Wider sidewalks on both sides of the street
- Reduced number of travel lanes and enhanced street edge activity (pedestrians, parking, trees, bike racks, etc.) to help calm traffic
- Flexibility to retain on-street parking and loading spaces on at least one side the street in most blocks
- removal of approximately 60 of the 120 on-street parking spaces on Elgin itself
- Flexibility to program some spaces as flex space for parking / loading spaces, for pedestrian use, or for outdoor patios or streetside spots
- Improved bus stop waiting areas
- Wider sidewalks on both sides of the street
- Introduction of a westbound cycling facility (works in tandem with existing eastbound bike lane on Graham Avenue)
- Maintaining some on-street parking on the south side of the street
During 2013-2014 Main Street was identified as one such potential street and an environmental assessment was conducted for a street re-design which would see segregated bike lanes added and the roadway reduced from a 4-lane profile to a 3-lane profile. (One traffic lane in each direction plus a third lane whose use alternates between on-street parking and left turn lanes at intersections).
Mar 2016: Final reconstruction of the street south of the 417 is to occur in 2018. Most recent plans include the expansion of off-peak on-street parking further south of the current limit (Carling Ave) to Second Ave.
Jan 2012: The mayor acknowledged the CCC letter and assured us that our concerns will be considered. Shortly after an announcement was made that Bronson Ave would not be widened as part of the sewer/water/reconstruction effort. The stated reason was that the proposed widening would have required relocation of hydro poles, adding costs which the City did not wish to incur.
Nov 2011: The sewer and water services under Bronson Ave will be renewed in the 2012 to 2014 timeframe. This project will take place over several phases with the first phase focusing on the section of Bronson north of the Queensway with work expected to begin on this section early in 2012. The CCCA (Centretown Citizens Community Association) and DCA (Dalhousie Community Association) have raised the possibility that since traffic levels are lower on most of this section of Bronson that upon reconstruction the road profile could be reduced from the current 4-lanes to effectively 3-lanes (one traffic lane in each direction combined with opposing left turn lanes at intersections).
The CCC is strongly supportive of this initiative. Right sizing roads in the downtown area to achieve a better compromise between automobile users and community quality of life should be given closer attention. Because changes such as the one proposed for Bronson north by Rescue Bronson will have the potential to make a significant difference in quality of life for adjacent residents and non-motorized users of the corridor then every effort should be made to achieve these goals. We believe the onus should be on the City to prove in a convincing manner that such community enhancing changes cannot be accommodated.
As of Dec 1, 2011 the affected communities have been unable to get the authorities to accept their 3-lane proposal. The CCC wrote a letter to Transportation Committee expressing its support for the affected communities.
Through the efforts of a group of mostly Lowertown residents who are organized under the name “King Edward Avenue Task Force” and with the help of councilor Georges Bedard the City has undertaken a study to determine the feasibility of reducing King Edward Ave north of Rideau St from 6 lanes down to 5 or 4 lanes. This study wrapped up its final report in Summer 2010. An excellent and informative document is available from Dillon consulting of their analysis of this proposal.
As a bit of background, the King Edward Avenue Task force disagreed with Delcan corporation’s design in 2002 for the current reconstruction of King Edward Ave at 6 lanes. As is typical in such cases Delcan and City Traffic planners prevailed. The King Edward Task Force reasserted their case in Fall 2007, again suggesting that 4 lanes was all that was necessary since the area traffic congestion during the recent construction phase seemed to be less dramatic than many had expected. While the road was being constrained to 4 lanes during construction the Task Force argued it was an ideal time to study whether a 4 lane option was feasible. City council agreed and directed City Staff to perform a study.
Numerous examples have emerged in cities throughout the world where urban lanes of traffic have been returned to pedestrians, cyclists, and residents with surprising little impact on auto traffic. Ottawa needs to begin to intelligently pursue such policies as well and King Edward Ave is an excellent example of where this can be implemented.
Based on the supporting data from this study, the CCC supports this initiative to reduce the number of lanes on King Edward Ave (north of Rideau). This is an example of a case where the width of the roadway is greater than necessary and the incremental benefit to the community is greater than the minor disruption this will have on transiting traffic.
In April 2011 the report was brought back to council with a recommendation that no lane reductions be considered for King Edward Ave until after construction of a new east end bridge. This recommendation passed at council with a 21-3 vote. The report and the presentation made at City Transportation Committee can be found on this King Edward Lane Reductions Report.
For more details including descriptions of what the 5 and 4 lane options look like consult the King Edward Lane Reduction Study City project page.
More details on the issues, problems, and history of King Edward Avenue can be found on the King Edward Avenue Task Force website.
What: Intersection modifications, including additions and extensions of through lanes and turning lanes, new traffic signals, paved shoulders, and rehabilitation of the roadway.
When: Tendering of the construction contract is expected to take place in Winter of 2017, with construction scheduled to begin in Spring of 2017.
- Prince of Wales Drive, Northbound between Hunt Club and Wellsmere Court;
- Prince of Wales Drive, between Deakin Street and Hunt Club Road;
- Prince of Wales Drive, between Blazer Avenue and Deakin Street;
- Amberwood and Prince of Wales intersection: New signalised intersection;
- Prince of Wales and Merivale Road intersection;
- Hunt Club and Riverside Drive intersection;
- Deakin Street, between Macfarlane and Prince of Wales: new Multi-Use Pathway.
The City of Ottawa completed an environmental assessment for the widening of Prince of Wales drive to 4 lanes on the section between Woodroffe and Fisher Ave. The widening was planned to be undertaken in several stages beginning from the south and working to the north with the final total cost estimated to be $100m. The 2012 City budget provided a section outlining the plan for road expansions over the next 3 years time horizon. In this section an entry appears for widening of Prince of Wales Drive from Strandherd Dr north to Merivale Rd with an estimated cost of 44m$.
By enabling significant additional vehicles into the city centre via Fisher Ave one of the main side effects of this project will be even greater congestion downtown. Moreover considering the final price tag for the complete project relative to the number of commuters expected to use this road the CCC believes that this project ranks poorly as an overall societal investment. The detailed project information included the Environmental Assessment Study and proposed roadway design have been removed from the City of Ottawa website. The only information record still available is this diagram illustrating the current and projected (2031) Traffic Volumes anticipated on the Prince of Wales Corridor. The CCC participated in the public consultation phase of this project and provided its position in written form via this Prince of Wales widening CCC response letter.
- Widening Highway 417 in Ottawa between Maitland and Island Park Drive starting in 2016, then from Highway 416 to Maitland Avenue starting in 2019.
- Adding noise barriers to Highway 417 in Ottawa and "improvements at the Bronson Avenue interchange" starting in 2018.
Background: In 2003 the Ontario Ministry of Transport (MTO) completed a detailed environmental assessment for the addition of a fourth lane in each direction to the Queensway starting from Metcalfe Street moving eastward as far as Walkley Road. This project also included some modifications to existing Queensway ramps at Lees, Bronson, Parkedale, etc to improve satefy. Like the Altavista Corridor the CCC opposed this initiative and together with other groups appealed to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE) that this was not a typical ‘Highway expansion class’ of environmental assessment and should be ‘bumped-up’ to a more rigorous review process. In January 2008 the MoE ruled that a more rigorous “Individual EA” would not be needed and formally approved this environmental assessment for widening the Queensway.
During May 2011 several presentations were made to Ottawa City Council on the topic of accelerating the implementation of Ottawa's east-west LRT project. These presentations referenced the fact that the LRT project was dependent on this 417 widening project being finished prior to 2016 as the added lanes on the 417 are intended to be used for OC Transpo buses during the 2016-2018 timeframe when the Bus Transitway will be taken out of service for transition to LRT.
Also in Feb 2011 a formal notice of expropriation was issued to homeowners living nearby the Parkedale Ave westbound off-ramp indicating that other aspects of the original 2003 plan (ie. the ramp modifications for safety improvements) are also going ahead.
The CCC is not convinced that such a highway expansion project is in the best interest of downtown Ottawa. This several hundred million dollar project (quoted in a Citizen article on Jun 8, 2011 as 200m$) would likely simply enable 5,000-10,000 east end commuters to reach their central destinations (and return) a few minutes faster during a 2 hour period in the morning and afternoon. Even this benefit has been debated by some, as the eastbound afternoon returning traffic is bottlenecked primarily by the 2 lanes of the 174 east of the split, and not particularly by the section of the 417 planned for widening. In fact the widened 417 would deliver even higher volumes of traffic to the already constrained 174 between the split and Orleans resulting in even bigger backups for Orleans (and beyond) bound traffic.
The rest of the 20 hour daily period the extra lanes would be serving no particularly useful purpose. The CCC believes it would be more productive to use several hundred million dollars to improve the public transportation system where it will provide new incremental benefits to citizens all day long. It is ironic that once again a major road expansion is deemed to be necessary in order to move forward with a transit project (in this case the Ottawa east-west LRT).
As the LRT goes into operation (planned for 2018), east-west auto traffic will experience a 33% expansion of capacity to the east of downtown on the 417 as the new 417 lanes are converted from bus lanes to general traffic lanes. Hardly a recipe for encouraging a modal shift onto the new transit line!
The project website is: http://queenswayexpansioneast.com/home/ .
In the fall of 2011 the Ontario Government announced further widenings of the 417 in the west end of Ottawa at the cost of 86m$. When completed the 417 through the Kanata area will be wider and have more capacity than the section between Richmond Road east to Carling Avenue.
The 417 west projects include:
- widening Highway 417 from four to eight lanes from Eagleson Road to Palladium Drive with a new High Occupancy Vehicle lane in each direction
- widening Highway 417 from four to six lanes from Palladium Drive to Highway 7
- repairs to the Carp Road, Eagleson Road and Huntmar Drive bridges