Confederation Line (iii) – Baby it’s cold inside

  Dashing thru the snow …. The RTG literature for the new Confederation Line assures us repeatedly that their equipment runs in cold and snowy climates. Given those frequent winter stories in the mass media that we live in the coldest (capital) city in the world, I’d feel much better knowing that our model of trains were running flawlessly in Edmonton, or Winnipeg or Moscow. Instead we are assured they run in “northern cities”. Copenhagen may well be north of us, but it has a maritime climate. The 100% low floor trains currently run in Adelaide, Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris T2, Valenciennes, Rotterdam, Buenos Aires,Madrid, Melbourne, Nice, Murcia, Barcelona, Jerusalem, Le Havre and Grenoble. With … Continue reading Confederation Line (iii) – Baby it’s cold inside

Shake the planning etch-a-sketch: Build that LRT to Orleans, and charge them for it

Let’s shake the planning etch-a-sketch by building that LRT out to Orleans right now.  And charging them for it. The Sinkhole Incident on Hwy 174 has high lighted the lack of access to the former St Joseph d’Orleans. And its not just the lack of road access, it’s the lack of alternatives. If the sink hole happened on the road to Kanata, there are more alternative routes. The higher road capacity pushes off the breakeven point for extending LRT to Kanata. And remember, the nearest point of Kanata is further away than the farthest point in Orleans*. In this road shortage situation, Orleans … Continue reading Shake the planning etch-a-sketch: Build that LRT to Orleans, and charge them for it

Major changes coming to downtown streets

The current downtown Ottawa is rather blah. Some might even call it bleh. Over the decades, it has become a motor-vehicle-oriented environment, with the fast movement of vehicles the main only priority. We all know about the walls of buses. And the priority given to automobile commuters over pedestrians. Trees: rare as hen’s teeth. It has become a downtown one goes to because you have to. It is not a shopping, or even much of a recreation destination. All rather sad. When the LRT is opened, there will be major changes. Most OC Transpo buses will be off the Albert … Continue reading Major changes coming to downtown streets

The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

The Confederation Square station entrance (or lack of one) is getting a lot of press.  Earlier, the proposed Rideau Station was straddling the underside of the Canal, with the east entrance coming up at the Rideau Centre and the west entrance coming up at Confederation Square. This was called the Rideau Street station as that was its primary market, and the main reason it was pushed eastward under the canal was the sharp southward curve the track took immediately upon leaving the Rideau Station heading towards Campus:   The prior plans showed the western end of the Rideau station platform connected to a long, fairly … Continue reading The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

Not inspiring confidence

The City held an open house last night on the OLRT. There wasn’t anything new there that you wouldn’t know about if you read the papers and this blog. I did feel a sense of  insincerity about it though. Quickly announced, not much content, a quick visit from Hiz Honnor: I got the feeling the event was held so that some lawyer could point to it later on, at a hearing, saying “See, we had lots of public consultation, blah blah blah”. Rather more disturbing was the number of minor errors on the display boards. Many of them I have seen before, … Continue reading Not inspiring confidence

Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Let’s go for a trip on the Phoenix LRT. The video at this link takes 10 minutes to play. The link may not be live, ie you may have to copy and paste to your browser. Leave the window size small, as the video is low resolution, taken from a handheld digital camera while sitting behind the driver. The Phoenix LRT is 20 miles long (32 km), and has 28 stations. It opened in Dec 2008. Ridership in 2011 averaged 40,600 pax per day. The peak day carried over 60,000 pax. The trains are two-car train sets, thus the … Continue reading Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Bayview Station (final)

The saga of the amazing perambulating Bayview Station is nearing completion. Recall that the station has been proposed in various scales, sizes, and locations. Well, the final plan is available exclusively to readers here. Bayview Station is back to being “on the structure” of the transitway bridge over the O-Train cut (yes, I know, the O-train isn’t in a cut, it’s on the level, it’s the road that is elevated, but  such is our road-focussed society that the road becomes the normal level, and the flat becomes the hole…). The new station is in the same style as the majority of other proposed LRT stations. … Continue reading Bayview Station (final)

Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue. Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it. The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they … Continue reading Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

Bike shelter at Bayview Station

OC TRANSPO has installed the new bike shelter at Bayview Station. It does not have a glass wall on the “back” side of it, but nor is the back side readily accessible for cyclists while there is loose dirt/mud. Presumably, if no glass back wall is installed, and the grass grows, some cyclists can use the rack from the back side but at the cost of losing out on the roof. Is it safe to suggest this is another one-sided front-in only bike shelter? In which case, it holds six bikes. After we spend millions on the new Bayview LRT and indoor-transfer-by-escalator to the … Continue reading Bike shelter at Bayview Station

How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

        We are in the process of replacing the transitway with LRT. In the Scott Street cut, this won’t matter much. But at either end of the cut, it matters a lot. The City is preaching two totally opposed messages on how the track will interact with the community.  On LeBreton Flats, they claim that anyone getting near the tracks will be imminent mortal danger so great that six foot high chain link fences will be constructed on both sides of the tracks. For pedestrian safety, of course. So there will be no crossing of the tracks through the Flats.  City staff … Continue reading How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

OC Transpo provides better bike parking

Users of the main transitway stations will have noticed that some bike parking racks have been shoved aside from their usual locations. Then concrete pads have been poured. Only at Baseline Station did I notice a sign identifying what is going on: new bike racks. Kudos to OC for providing better bike parking. In the pic below notice the new shelter, the moderately strong bike racks, and in the distance, the numerous bikes attached to the shoved-aside racks that are no longer bolted to the ground (and the background, the free employee parking lot attached our municipal office building). And here is a … Continue reading OC Transpo provides better bike parking

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

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

Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Councilor Katherine Hobbs is in the news for asking the City to examine developing the air rights over the west side part of the transitway/LRT line. I have a bunch of mutually contradictory thoughts on this. 1. The City should sell air rights to help pay for the transitway. Taxpayers are forking out a bundle of money for a transit line, we can recoup some of that expenditure by selling prime access to the most-accessible locations in the city. Otherwise, many of the development benefits go to the builders on adjacent lands. In some cases, these are private developers; in the case … Continue reading Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Development charges and misleading headlines

Today’s Citizen has a story on development charges. The headline, picture,  and first part of the story emphasizes how much of the development charges will pay for transit. Buried deeper in the story, and not all that easy to spot, is this bit: But in general, fees for new roads are far and away the biggest chunk of any of the charges: for a new house inside the Greenbelt,You can read the whole story here:         Do you notice that the headline doesn’t read “rampant road construction boosts housing costs?”  There is no picture of Terry … Continue reading Development charges and misleading headlines

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

Green Roof at College Square

The roof at Algonquin College’s new building is planted. The pic above shows the steepest part of roof, as seen from the northwest. I think the north half of the building bears a resemblance to the War Museum on LeBreton Flats. I notice the Ottawa U station will be called “Campus”; the Carleton U station is called “Carleton”; but the Algonquin College station is called “Baseline”. I think Baseline is a poor choice, since the road after which it is named is many kilometers long while the station is in one place only. Either “College Square” or “Algonquin” would be … Continue reading Green Roof at College Square

The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Warning: long post. Go pee or get your coffee before you start reading. After so much huffing and puffing, the City has detailed its final LRT route and station locations, and their costs, to Council and the Public. The most noteworthy change has been to move the tunnel from the “cross country” deep alignment under Albert Street, then Queen Street … to one that traverses the downtown always under Queen. I have read the available material from the City justifying the move. It is a very political document, light on the technical stuff. It’s way more PR oriented than the previous reports. … Continue reading The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

O-Train fast track

After years of ignoring the O-Train (as Chiarelli’s baby it was “thrown out” with the Mayor who drew the bath water); it is finally back on Council’s agenda. Council is looking at some significant service improvements: 8 minute frequency (starting in 2014) rather than 15-minute headway now. This comes with a significant cost: buying six new train sets and selling off the existing Talent train sets in 2014 that would be nearly half-way through their lifespan. The City can make a business case for doing the upgrade, based on several factors: the  current O-train is at- or over-capacity and apparently cannot be made to run faster; … Continue reading O-Train fast track

Staircase to heaven

For the last two weeks, users of the O-Train or those accessing the Bayview bus-stations-in-a-field have had to circumvent the drill rigs that seem to populate so many corners of downtown Ottawa. They are drilling to determine sub-surface soil conditions for the construction of the LRT stations of the future. In this case, they are drilling at the locations of the stairways that will go from the upper platform to the O-Train platform and also access the N/S bike path and BikeWest paths. The outer edges of the OLRT station platforms at this location are quite tricky, as the station will be initially opened as a … Continue reading Staircase to heaven

How Much is that LRT Really Costing?

Sometime later this month, the City will publish an update on the projected cost of the LRT system from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road. This will be the most expensive segment, as it includes the tunnel, the maintenance yards, and startup rolling stock. Future segments (eg, to Lincoln Fields or College Square) will be much cheaper, if the public isn’t scared off the whole idea of expanding the  LRT by rampant inflating costs for the first segment. How will Watson play it? He can either deliver years of rising costs and carping criticism, or a clean easy-to-grasp (and easy-to-sell) budget. Recall that … Continue reading How Much is that LRT Really Costing?

LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre

The Rideau Centre station isn’t really on the west side, but it interesting, so here is a quickie overview: the underground station is outlined in red oval, the route of the underground tracks is in dotted red. The west entry is beside the NAC, facing onto Confederation Square and War Memorial. The west entry may include a weather sheltered or indoor connection to the NAC. The east entry is marked as “future east entry” but as it is the only east entry, presumably it is built at the same time as the station opens. The aerial photo below shows the key entry points … Continue reading LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre

LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

There is currently a bus transitway station at LeBreton Flats. The proposed LRT station is essentially at the same location, except it extends further west under Booth Street and is a few feet south of the current station, allowing room for landscaping and breathing space between it and the aqueduct. On the aerial photo above, note also the pedestrian crossing of the aqueduct off to the left side of the picture, this is the old Broad Street right of way and ped bridge. The site analysis drawing, above, shows the proximity of the current LeBreton residential neighborhood. Blue arrows show view planes, but both are rather curiously … Continue reading LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

The Bayview Station is quite complex to describe compared to Tunney’s or Hurdman. Basically, it is a long thin platform built atop an earthen embankment, pretty much where the bus shelters are now. But rather than have sloping pedestrian paths connect to the O-train platform about 16′ lower down, under the overpasses, the City proposes to build an escalator connection at the west end of the new platform that takes users directly down to the O-Train platform. This is a great development for users that transfer.  What complicates the Bayview Station is that it is in the middle of an … Continue reading LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station