More Tunnel Segments go under Somerset Street

A big truck delivers another section of tunnel to Somerset Street. The extra-wide load is escorted by leading vehicles. Each tunnel segment weighs 32 tons. The deliveries are not permitted during morning or evening “rush hours” so as to minimize traffic delays.                                   Continue reading More Tunnel Segments go under Somerset Street

First tunnel segments go under Somerset

Recall that there is a pedestrian-cyclist tunnel under construction. The tunnel will take users under Somerset Street, parallel to the O-Train. Segments of the pre-cast tunnel were delivered today. Each giant precast block of concrete has a female and male “end”. There are holes cast in the tunnel segments to tie them all together and some holes in the sides which will have pins that hold them to the concrete reataining walls of the viaduct. The first piece installed is the north portal. It got its inside leading edge a bit crumbled in the process (visible on the far left of … Continue reading First tunnel segments go under Somerset

Hidden treasures

I was out a few weeks ago helping to put parking survey slips on parked bikes in the downtown. The focus was on bikes parked on the surface of streets between Wellington and Laurier. There were incredible numbers of bikes around Place de Ville. But there are also some tucked away parking spots, here is one off Wellington: If you squint closely, you might notice two-thirds of the way down the row, on the right, there is even one of those bike maintenance posts to hang your bike one whilst oiling it, adjusting the gears, etc. I didn’t notice a handy-dandy tool kit near-by, though. Continue reading Hidden treasures

Parks and Parking, very different words

I recently took the city course on Parks Planning, part of a series of planning courses they offer to educate the great unwashed. I will offer some more comments on the course should I ever find my notes. But the most significant impression I took away related to parks and parking. Now I went into the battle  course with loins girded to ask some tough questions. Like, why is so much of our precious scarce parkland occupied by parking lots? Is this really the highest and best use of parkland? I was all prepared to offer up the example of the … Continue reading Parks and Parking, very different words

Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

Down on LeBreton Flats things are quieter right now. The music concert season is drawing to a close (did you notice, the HoDown patrons were much better dressed than the Bluesfest patrons? Cowboy boots, hot pants, checkered shirts, and straw cowboy hats….hee hah!). Claridge is finishing up his current building, but not yet started its next bunch. You can actually hear the birds chirp, and see them flitting from stunted popular tree to stunted shrub amongst the bomb-crater landscape that typifies much of the Flats. Claridge builds the condos, and landscapes their grounds. He then landscapes the “public parkland” space along the new bike … Continue reading Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

Visions of LRT along the Parkway

Much fuss has been made about the merits of running the new LRT along parts of the Parkway aka Ottawa River Commuter Expressway. Personally, I don’t see why motorists have to get the view and nice landscaping whilst transit users have to ride in a ditch. I think electric trains on grassy trackbeds along the river would be more environmentally sensitive than noisy, fumey cars and buses on asphalt roads that have to be salted all winter. I realize one** of the “criticisms” of riverfront transit is the aesthetics of overhead wiring. I spotted this view of Island Park Bridge and thought immediately … Continue reading Visions of LRT along the Parkway

World heritage sunbrellas

I notice that at Harwell Lock, near Carleton U, the students working the canal now have sun umbrellas to shade them whilst cranking the sluices and the lock doors open. I did notice that they are not properly branded with the Parks Canada official beaver ™ or the designation of World Heritage Site ™ or a Giant Blue C.  Assuming the sunbrellas pass muster with the United Bureaucrats of Turtle Bay, I hope to see proper logo’d sunbrellas next year. Humour “off”. Continue reading World heritage sunbrellas

Bike Parking at New LRT Stations

I sit on the public advisory committee for pedestrian and cyclist access to and design of the new LRT stations. Sometimes my comments are welcome there, and sometimes I feel like the skunk at a garden party. After last week, I was a stunned bunny. The subject was (again) cyclist and pedestrian access to the new stations. There was some useful stuff, like the likely walk-in catchment zone, the cycle-in catchment zone, and the zone where it is just too much effort to get out the bike so someone might walk; and zone where someone might decide, since they were already … Continue reading Bike Parking at New LRT Stations

Preventive maintenance vs replacement

The Bayview O-train station is only “temporary”, but like many temporary things in the City, it has a long “temporary” life. Constructed in 2001, there are long sloping pedestrian walkways connecting the O-Train and Bus platforms. The asphalt paths were laid on gravel base, but with no “shoulder” of gravel. Instead, the gravel slopes away right from the edge of the asphalt. I am sure someone dutifully looked up the correct slope in some engineering table, and that the gravel would be stable and not erode. Except … Except the stability of gravel on a slope depends on there being no load … Continue reading Preventive maintenance vs replacement

How to ride a bike through Thick cement

Recall that the new O-Train corridor cycling path parallels the tracks on their east side. To get under Somerset Street, the City is constructing a new underpass for the multi-user path. The north portal has been cut out; here is the view from the top of the hole in Somerset:  Notice how thick is the base of the wall of the viaduct. There is no further foundation — the wall just bulbs out and rests on the dirt. It reminds me of those blocks sold to hold up decks — rather than digging a deep hole and filling it up with cement, … Continue reading How to ride a bike through Thick cement

The Queensway Forest

One of the recommendations in the New Centretown Plan currently doing the rounds, is for a densely planted urban forest along the banks of the Queensway. Currently, there are some unpretty barren spots: And even where there is a bit more planting, it is sparse: Compare that with the lush vegetation a bit further west, along Edgar Street: A couple of observations: the lush growth shown above does not look “planned” or “planted” by landscape architects. I saw no evidence of retaining walls, gabions, well spaced hardwoods, scenic selection of trees … no, they just appear to have grown there all by themselves. Aided, … Continue reading The Queensway Forest

Unmet transportation demand in Westboro

These grocery carts are parked in a field near Island Park Towers,  upscale rental buildings just west of Island Park Drive along the Ottawa River. I suspect the building caretakers gather the carts and push them across the street, abandoning them on a dilapidated bit of … city or Ottawa Hydro land. For a brief time, I resided in Fenwick Towers, a brutal concrete high-rise in Halifax. The views were fabulous. The building inside was dubious, having been started as a luxury tower but bankrupted before completion, and then finished out in Beaver Lumber cheap by the university. This was … Continue reading Unmet transportation demand in Westboro

Toe chopping specials

Residents of the national capital(e) are indeed fortunate beneficiaries of tax dollars collected from the good folks of Ecum Secum and Lower  Shubenacadie who provide us with wonderful paths and benches to sit on. I am not sure how much thinking goes into the details of bench location, though. Take the above pic, which shows the most typical installation of a bench right on the edge of the travelled portion of the path. Slouch down and you risk getting your toenails clipped by passing cyclists. If you stopped because your kid was squirming in the stroller or bike trailer, and needs to run around for … Continue reading Toe chopping specials


Some days on the west side of town are just peachy. Other days are a tad … dull. Depressing, even. Someone had enough time and energy to attack this Ginkgo tree in Plouffe Park: Meanwhile, over on Albert Street, where a half-assed multi-user path runs along the north side of the road, these have appeared scattered all along the path: Some of the posts are steel, like the one shown. Others are chunky 4×4 posts, all about 10′ high. I think the city buys one size of post, digs any depth hole, plants said post, then cuts it off at … Continue reading Dullsville

End of the Yellow Brick road, err buildings

The NCC wanted a different look and feel for the LeBreton neighborhood. They wanted a neighborhood that was distinctive. To this end they chose a particular palate of colours that all bidders had to employ. Predominate in this palate was yellow brick. It was always in the plan that as the buildings approached the south edge (I thought they meant Albert Street…) they would become two tone brick, employing the traditional red brick common to the older neighborhoods, to form a transition zone. I am not sure whether the lack of enthusiasm for the look of the recently constructed condos comes … Continue reading End of the Yellow Brick road, err buildings

Waterparks in the City

Dufferin Park in Toronto is justifiably well known for its innovative features. The boy on the left (picture, above) is by the spigot that flows water into this large sand lot, complete with oversize logs that seem perfect to stimulate little imaginations while containing the mess and providing bum rests for parents. Can’t you just hear Ottawa park bureaucrats commenting on the “safety” of that big log bridge? (shown above) Actually, watching the baby crawl up out of the ditch was hilarious and inspiring. The Dufferin Park neighborhood and adjacent Trinity Bellwoods neighborhoods appear to me to be in the “Glebe” level of affluence. A number of … Continue reading Waterparks in the City

Bus route reassurance

OC Transpo introduces major route changes on Sept 4th. These little hang tags on bus stop signs remind users that this route will be changing. This is certainly a proactive reach-out, taking the message directly to the affected riders. The hang tags are suspended on plastic hangers, which, coupled with the low height of bus stop signs, makes them easy for vandals to swat off the sign. I have noticed a number of signs have only the little plastic loops on them; the advisory itself is gone. On routes that don’t change, there is a little sticker on the post that affirms … Continue reading Bus route reassurance

Bike underpass progresses

The City is inserting a new bicycle underpass parallel to the O-Train track where it goes under the Somerset Street viaduct. A viaduct is like a bridge, except it isn’t hollow underneath, it has dirt fill between side retaining walls. In the picture below, the far side wall is visible as is the wall of the O-Train underpass  on the left edge of the picture.  A construction worker, busily supervised by another, is shown with a large horizontal saw blade (about 36″ diameter) riding on rail attached to the wall, cutting a horizontal opening through the wall. I suspect this is the … Continue reading Bike underpass progresses

New sidewalks on Somerset

The first bits of concrete pavers were laid on Somerset today, just west of Preston. This is the style of paver to be used from the O-train east to Booth. It will also be the paver used if more of Chinatown is streetscaped. The pavers are a brown-red shade, with a very coarse surface grooving, which will be great for grip when climbing those hills in the winter, but which will be murder on kids’ knees one they inevitably take a tumble. All those involved in the design committee for the Somerset reconstruction will understand why the paver installation started at … Continue reading New sidewalks on Somerset

More, please

Hmm, high rise apartment building. With affordable rents. Tennants who ride bikes… What could be missing? Uhh, a place to park them? This unsightly mess on Bell Street reveals a) the lack of bike racks; b) the secondary utility of tree guards; c) another step in the jeeze-I’m-tired-of-cyclists syndrome; d)all of the above. Now I don’t actually believe the City should be rushing out to install bike racks on every sidewalk. Somehow, there is a niggling bit in the back of my mind that wants sidewalks for pedestrians. Convenient cycle parking yes, but not over-running every sidewalk. I recall my last … Continue reading More, please

Care and enjoyment of expensive streetscaping

The City spent millions to improve the look and landscaping along Preston. It is now a truly extraordinary street, a joy to walk along. (That it is extraordinary is an indictment of how bad the rest of our streets are…) The contractor repairing the porch of a house (shown above) decided these shrubs make a great place to throw his demolition debris. Who cares? And he is right, there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for those who abuse the plantings. All along the street, residents/businesses with generous paved frontages still decide to stack their garbage bags on top of the … Continue reading Care and enjoyment of expensive streetscaping