Western light rail: NCC–City Working Group achieves breakthrough agreement
A Working Group comprised of representatives from the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the City of Ottawa has reached an agreement in principle that would allow the City’s western light rail transit (LRT) extension to be fully buried under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. This integrated solution meets the NCC’s conditions and the City of Ottawa’s affordability requirements, while advancing the creation of a waterfront linear park.
This innovative solution was achieved following an intensive 100-day review process, led by a working group consisting of three city councillors, four NCC Board members, the City Manager and the NCC’s CEO.
This group began meeting in December 2014, with the goal of finding a mutually satisfactory solution for the western extension of Confederation Line between the Dominion and Cleary stations.
Supported by technical and urban planning expertise, the Working Group developed two viable and fully buried tunnel options: one under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, and one passing through Rochester Field and under the Byron Linear Park.
The recommended alignment would see the western LRT fully buried under a reconstructed and realigned Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. The NCC Board members of the Working Group believe that this buried option meets the two NCC Board of Directors’ conditions: to provide unimpeded continuous access to the corridor lands and shorelines, and to have minimal impact on the landscape quality and experience. It also meets the City’s objectives of protecting the Byron Linear Park, and the existing green corridor through Rochester Field from Richmond Road to the waterfront, while remaining within the project budget envelope.
This solution to run the LRT extension under the realigned westbound and eastbound lanes of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway between the Dominion and Cleary stations would produce the following results:
the existing lanes of traffic would be reinstated closer together and directly above the fully buried rail line in order to create a new “stacked” transportation corridor to maximize the amount of continuous green space through the corridor and along the waterfront;
- lands and landscaping elements would be restored;
- a park of national significance would be developed along the shoreline;
- the mature forest would be retained and enhanced;
- pathway additions and enhancements would be created, with two new crossings under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway into the future linear park;
- an eventual reduction would be achieved of nearly 500,000 bus trips annually on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway; and
- a total of 38 percent more usable shoreline parkland would be made available.
As part of the agreement, the Working Group will remain in place to resolve land use issues for the City of Ottawa’s Stage 2 LRT project, and will oversee a joint value-engineering exercise to contain costs within the City’s affordability envelope for this extension.
This agreement will be submitted for approval to the NCC Board of Directors at its next public meeting. The City will provide an opportunity for the public to review the preferred option and provide feedback at an open house event on March 30. This feedback will be considered as part of the ongoing environmental assessment process for the western LRT extension.
“I am pleased with the spirit of cooperation demonstrated by the Working Group,” said Russell Mills, chair of the NCC Board of Directors, “The NCC has continuously supported light rail transit as both a city-building and a nation-building project, and this creative solution reinforces our strong ongoing working relationship with the City of Ottawa.”
“This is a historic agreement that comes as a result of a very constructive dialogue over the past 100 days. I want to thank all of the Working Group members for their hard work and creativity, which has led to the identification of this solution,” said Jim Watson, mayor of Ottawa. “This solution is an important part of the City’s Stage 2 LRT project, which will help us deliver reduced commute times, cleaner air and a stronger economy.”
“Allow me to thank the Working Group for its 100 days of hard work and the report with which it all culminated,” said Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Orleans. “I have only just received the report and look forward to studying its two options and the recommendation. Ottawa has strong advocates in the current federal government. I look forward to reading, studying and analyzing the report and working with all concerned toward the best outcome.”