Prince of Wales rail bridge from Ottawa to Gatineau
Tuesday from 5.30 to 8.30 at City Hall (main floor) there will be a public display of the options for interprovincial transit between Ottawa and Gatineau.
Options include which mode of transit to use: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or LRT. Route options include connections via the Alexandra Bridge (or under it, in a tunnel under the river, and remember the tunnel under downtown Ottawa is already very deep down so this doesn’t require a steep slope, and the Rideau station has been designed with this connection in mind); a west connection on the Prince of Wales Bridge or Chaudiere Bridge; and maybe connecting these two crossings to make a loop.
Mode: Ottawa is growing out of its BRT system and converting it to an LRT system including a downtown tunnel. Gatineau, smaller than Ottawa, is just building its Rapibus BRT which will last it 30 years until it too is converted to a LRT.
It just doesn’t seem logical to me to opt for a BRT linking the two cities. The idea behind the tunnel is get the buses off the downtown streets (so the streets can be redeveloped and landscaped for pedestrians and cyclists), and this means getting the STO buses off the streets too.
And we don’t want large BRT stations at LeBreton Flats or near the National Gallery to transfer passengers to the LRT. So, my choice for the mode is LRT for the loop. In Gatineau’s small downtown, it is probably premature to run the LRT in a tunnel; I suggest it would be fine to run it on the surface for the next several decades where it would serve to animate the street life.
Route: in the west, either the Chaudiere crossing or the Prince of Wales Bridge will work. But since the LRT route will help intensify development, it makes the most sense to me to run it on the POW bridge so it services all of LeBreton-Bayview redevelopment areas, and connects with the future North/South line along the O-Train corridor (which might extend right over to Gatineau on the POW). While a bit further than the Chaudiere, the POW bridge would be car-free so service would be faster. The already-planned Bayview Station has been designed to handle east-west and north-south traffic and all its transfers, permeatations and combinations.
I also don’t think they would need to double track the Prince of Wales bridge at the beginning, five or seven minute scheduling should be possible even with a single track bridge. Indeed, it might be possible to initially run the whole loop only in one direction on one track, and later expand it to two ways on two tracks.
On the east side, it intrigues me that the LRT could run on the old Alexandra Bridge rather than in a tunnel under it. Of course, car traffic would be booted off, and the bridge would revert to its original rail function. It is sort of poetic justice that rail structures were converted to roads in the 50’s and 60’s and now they could be converted to LRT service*. And the views from the LRT would be fantastic from both bridges, which can be a great feature attracting ridership.
City hall is air conditioned, so its a great time to come down and tell the City and NCC what you want to see for the interprovincial transit connection.
*expanding on this idea of converting rails to roads and back to rails, the parkway along the canal would be a great conversion back to surface LRT (streetcar service) which would include Lansdowne Park, the Glebe, Main Street, Ottawa South, to Billings.