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 are insisting that the current pedestrian crossing of the transitway at the Preston Extension will be closed before construction starts. The PAC is advising that it be left open, on a temporary basis, until the permanent grade separation is constructed in the future to connect Preston to the ORP at the Vimy Drive intersection (the intersection there is already in place, complete with lengthy stacking lanes).
PAC members, along with the ward councilor, Holmes, argue that it will be safer to cross the OLRT tracks than to currently cross the transitway. The City isn’t buying that argument.
Yet … yet just a few blocks away, another City-sponsored PAC and consultation process is underway for the westward extension of the OLRT beyond Tunney’s Pasture out to Lincoln Fields (watch for this to be built simultaneously or very shortly after the first phase LRT). Where that will run through the Ottawa River parkway lands, it will be set in grass, and with only a thin chain, mounted on posts, rather like a “bank line up”, to gently alert peds that they are approaching the tracks. Yup, that’s the City’s story for there and the Byron linear park.
And along Richmond, the tracks will be set in grass, just a foot or so back from the edge of Richmond Road, and open to the dog walking zone so beloved by Mckellerites. This layout will certainly be familiar to the Spanish consortium bidding to build our LRT.
No fences. Certainly not a 6′ chain link on both sides running unbroken from station to station.
I think it is time for the City to decide which it is going to be: Fenced or Open. They lose credibility by telling people two different stories. And I think it is important to community acceptance of the LRT that we know in advance some basics, like how much of a barrier it will be.
Similarly, they need to pledge to maintain a few standards. For example, through the Flats they propose a rather industrial-looking railway track roadbed set in gravel. Like the OTrain. For Mckeller Park, they wave images of a beautiful grass boulevard. Which is it? Will the nicer treatment be reserved for affluent areas only? (Thank heavens it is not going through Rockliffe Park).
And no, I dont buy the idea that landscaping can be upgraded later. Not in this city. If we don’t get it done right at the beginning, it will never be enough of a priority to “prettify” it later. Heck, this city doesn’t even have a budget for new sidewalks!
I am reminded of earlier NCC and City rail efforts.
In the early 1960’s the Feds spent millions of dollars to relocate a number of railway lines out of the City. The reasons? Lines were a barrier, a blight, they were industrial.
The main east-west rail line was replaced by the Queensway. The Scott street line was replaced (eventually) by the transitway. The north-south line parallel to Champagne was dropped into a deep cut. The passenger lines to Union Station became Colonel By Drive and the Alexandra Bridge (god, I wish the CBC announcers could say that right) became a road bridge.
Alas, technology changed, and the diesel engine removed from rail most of the “blighting” influence. But the replacements for the rail lines, predominantly roads, simply replaced one barrier with another noiser one. Pedestrians were not necessarily better off. Nor were neighborhoods.
It is important that we deal with the conversion of the transitway to LRT with some understanding of the consequences for adjacent communities and for ped/cyclist movement UP FRONT.
And don’t get me started on the consequences for Carling Avenue when LRT is built down the centre there. The general public has no idea how disruptive that will be, picturing some bucolic toy train running down the existing median. It wont be like that at all.