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Downtown Truck Tunnel Study

Council Agrees to Proceed with Tunnel Environmental Assessment (Sep 2016)

Ottawa City Council on Sep 14, 2016 voted 21-2 to set aside 2.5m$ in the 2017 budget for a detailed environmental assessment (EA) for this tunnel and commissioned the Mayor to approach the provincial and federal governments to also contribute to the funding of the EA on a 1/3 basis.  The EA process includes significant opportunities for formal public consultations.   It is expected it would take 3-4 years to complete.

Tunnel Feasibility Study Released (Aug 2016)

The release of the Downtown Tunnel Feasibility Study occurred in Aug 2016 (delayed from Q1 2016). This Study examined several possible routes for a tunnel from the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier bridge and concluded that a tunnel was technically feasible.

The recommended route for a tunnel would locate it's southern portal off the Vanier Parkway near Coventry Rd and continue under the Rideau River, East Sandy Hill, East Lowertown with the northern portal at the southern end of the Macdonald-Cartier bridge.

The proposed tunnel would be 3.4km long, would in fact be 2 separate tunnels (one for each direction of travel), with 2 lanes in each tunnel. The cost was estimated at between 1.7B$ and 2.0B$ (2015$). It was estimated that if the tunnel existed in 2016 that it would carry approximately 1700 trucks and 20,000-25,000 cars per day. During the peak afternoon period the car traffic would approach 1400 vehicles per hour and a forecast was made that this would increase to 2500 vehicles per hour by 2031. Unfortunately the Study did not provide any forecast for how much additional truck traffic the tunnel would carry by 2031.

The CCC welcomes this result and believes strongly that after 50 years of urban decay and several decades of failed solution attempts, that a viable solution must be found to the problem of over 2000 interprovincial trucks transiting through downtown streets every day.

Documents for Download:
Downtown Tunnel Feasibility Study Transportation Report
Downtown Tunnel Feasibility Study Final Report

The Study document and further supporting technical appendices (as of Aug 2016) can be downloaded from the City of Ottawa website at this link:

Tunnel Feasibility Study RFP Released (Apr 2014)

Apr 29, 2014

The City of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Transport have released the RFP for a consultant to perform a feasibility study for a downtown truck tunnel intended to remove interprovincial trucks from King Edward Ave, Rideau St, and Waller.   Bidders are to respond by May 15 and the study is expected to be completed in 15 months.  The scope of the technical analysis that will be required is listed on pages 7-13 of this Tunnel Study RFP document.

Separately, representatives of Action Sandy Hill and the King Edward Ave Task Force met with Mayor Jim Watson's office on Apr 24th to outline their concerns/priorities for this study.  A summary of some of the items discussed includes:
  • the RFP for the tunnel study would be posted to MERX within days
  • there will be no opportunities for the public to participate/have input during  the course of the study
  • the possibility exists to ask to meet with the winning consultant if there is an interest in contributing input during the course of the study
  • the study scope will include analysis of options for allowing the tunnel to be used by cars as well
  • the study scope will include an analysis of how to manage trucks carrying dangerous goods
  • multiple tunnel scenarios would be analyzed and a preferred scenario indicated
  • when finished, the study will be released to the public and after a month will go to committee and council
  • if there is a decision to proceed further, the next step would be an environmental assessment (EA)
  • any attempts to perform a cost/benefit analysis or quanitfy the public good would happen later at this EA stage
  • it was asked what challenges there would be to moving forward with a project since the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) 2013 doesn't even have a tunnel on the list of planned infrastructure projects in the next 20yr time horizon.  The response was that if council wanted to make it happen that they could move ahead without having to first update the TMP
  • it is likely they expect it to be a toll tunnel built as a P3
  • the community expressed the opinion that tolls would likely not be able to finance 100% of the cost and the response was that the City will be 'talking this up' with the senior gov'ts to be contributors (the new federal Building Canada Fund was mentioned several times.
  • the mayor reiterated his view that an east end bridge was just not a very good (practical?) idea and that there really wasn't any money available to build it anyways
  • when asked 'what next' if the tunnel study concluded a tunnel wasn't feasible, no one seemed prepared to talk about what the contingency plans were if that was the outcome
 The meeting concluded with a discussion of what could be done in the interim to improve the safety along the current downtown truck route.  Mathieu Fleury indicated he is discussing some options with the contractor who is still on site completing the Rideau street sewer work.  Some of the options discussed included: 
    •  putting bollards on the sidewalks on the 2 sharp right hand turns to help build some barrier against trucks climbing the curb during their turns
    • ways to try to slow the trucks down a bit.  They often wheel around these corners at 20-30km/hr trying to get around before the traffic lights turn.  That is just way too fast for an 18 wheeler on a pedestrian thoroughfare
    • slowing trucks down on the King Edward 'straight aways' was also discussed.  Solving these problems seemed mostly focused on solutions involving getting the police to hand out more tickets and installing a speed board to show vehicle's speeds rather than making changes to the roadway to make it seem less like a 'freeway'
  •  it was suggested we might have to consider restrictions on the double tandem trailer trucks and that the way the corners are engineered right now, those types of trucks may not capable of making the turn without mounting the sidewalk.  It was suggested that the traffic engineering department investigate.
  • lastly it was asked if there could be any discussion on diversifying the truck route by allowing some trucks to use the Vanier Parkway.  There was no commitment to follow-up this item further.

City Commits to Tunnel Feasibility Study (Nov 2013)

As part of the Nov 15, 2013 Transportation Committee Review of the 2013 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) a motion was passed to formally request the Province of Ontario to co-fund a feasibility study for a downtown tunnel between the 417 and the Macdonald-Cartier bridge.  Following is the text of the motion:


Transportation Committee

DATE: NOV. 15, 2013


MOVED BY:              Councillor Fleury

WHEREAS the recent decision by the Ontario government to not proceed with a new inter-provincial bridge crossing has stalled the long-term solution to help alleviate heavy truck movements through the downtown area; and

WHEREAS there are approximately 2,500 trucks on a typical weekday travelling on King Edward and this number is expected to increase by 1% to 2% annually; and

WHEREAS the need for a long-term strategy has resulted in comments for the TMP to recommend a comprehensive truck route study with a focus to reduce heavy truck traffic through the downtown area and specifically on Waller Street, Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue; and

WHEREAS Table 1 lists edits to the TMP that specifically addresses this issue in more detail as proposed by the Lowertown Community Association, Action Sandy Hill, the Downtown Rideau BIA, University of Ottawa and others; and

WHEREAS past interprovincial transportation studies discounted a tunnel solution from the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge for technical and operational reasons; and

WHEREAS the Mayor and Ward Councillor have had preliminary discussions with the Province to explore opportunities to revisit the technical feasibility of a tunnel from the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that City Council make a formal request to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario with respect to the potential for cost-sharing of the feasibility assessment for a tunnel from the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge on the understanding that the City will initiate and lead the feasibility assessment in collaboration with the Ministry.