Progress on Rescuing Bronson

scenic Bronson sidewalk squeezed between electric pole and apt buildings

The City has compromised on some Bronson issues.

They have agreed to remove their proposal to widen the street, which would have speeded up vehicular traffic while simultaneously making the corridor less cycling and pedestrian friendly and chopping off numerous front yards, church entries, and mature trees. In our opinion, it didn’t make the road any safer for motorists either.

I like to think it had a lot to do with people objecting. Rescue Bronson encouraged many people to have their say. This included residents, landlords, school principals, recreation coordinators, churches … and yup, we even got some of Ottawa’s condo developers to weigh in on Bronson and how it affects urban renewal.

But the “straw that broke the camel’s back”  came from Ottawa Hydro. Many poles are very close to the road. Widening the road required moving them back. In some cases, such as the block immediately north of Somerset, the wiring almost touches the balconies of apartments built back in the 1950’s. Heritage high rises, if you will. The wiring in front of those buildings would have to be buried. Transformers would have to be located in vaults off the side streets, with ridiculous access problems.

wooden poles, aka sidewalk furnishings, will stay in place

So those big wooden poles which blight our streets while simultaneously protecting pedestrians from rampaging motorists have come to our rescue.

While this is a victory for Councillor Holmes and Rescue Bronson and local residents, there are several steps yet to come. The Somerset and Gladstone intersections remain unsafe for pedestrians, but they can be fixed if the city gets over its compulsive need to cater to motorists. The current proposed revisions to the intersections are a step in the right direction, but still way below potential. The Arlington intersection needs a pedestrian crossing, and we remain hopeful that we can attain that. It comes up before Transportation Committee in a week or so.

The job for local residents now is to ensure those intersections are improved for pedestrians, and to ensure that quality landscaping is actually designed and installed. These are not easy tasks, we will have to continue pushing the traffic engineers, educating them as to what constitutes good design in an urban environment.

But for now, savor the victory.

25 thoughts on “Progress on Rescuing Bronson

  1. Congrats!

    It would have been nice if they acknowledged that the community has had an impact rather than deffer to Ottawa Hydro. That said, good news is good news. I hope this project can now move forward with an eye to what the community wants.

    1. What? And encourage the community to get involved in other issues? Roads are for engineers who understand everything about traffic. Leave it to them and go home…

      1. They may understand (car) traffic, but they know bollocks about electrical code. This is another example of silo thinking biting engineers in the ass.

    2. to acknowledge public discontent would be to validate that as a planning argument. No, I think they’ll stick with “reasons” that match their “objective” criteria.

    3. Could the hydro pole explanation be a cover story? I mean, the city’s traffic engineers wouldn’t spend years planning Bronson without considering factors other than traffic flow and the roadbed itself, would they?

      … oh. Never mind. Answered my own question.

      1. Yes, I think you have answered your own question. Even if the hydro pole explanation is a cover story, it does have the distinct advantage of being highly plausible. Moreover, the same hydro issues will likely get in the way of attempts to improve Bronson for pedestrians, such as widening the sidewalks, so cover story or not, it’s good for them.

        It really is hard to say whether public opposition had any role at all, and as others have pointed out, even if it did, they would be loathe to admit it.

  2. It also means that Bronson can’t be widened, ever, except at great cost. The same is likely true of Bronson south of the Queensway. So the engineers are now saddled with Bronson being four lanes fixed width forever. Given that, the obvious next question is this: “Now What?”

      1. What it means is that twinning the Airport Parkway is likely forever dead unless an alternate route can be found. The Alta Vista Corridor is going to be tabled up again.

      2. Responding to Mike’s comment below mine

        Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure of that, Mike. The hydro thing is a minor impediment. It just meant that, this round, there wasn’t enough money in the budget to bury the hydro line running up Bronson. Even if you get the Alta Vista Parkway going, Bronson still looks like an awfully tempting route to get people between downtown and the 417. To a traffic engineer, at any rate. The people that live in the neigborhood be damned.

  3. Whoa there Michael ! We are talking of Bronson north of the Queensway, ie from Catherine to Laurier. That will not be widened. I don’t think anyone at the city is talking about lane widths south of the Queensway, through the Glebe, Ottawa South, or adding (or not adding) whole lanes out to the airport. I fully expect the airport parkway to be twinned due to the popularity of yoga apparel sales events.

    1. You don’t think that they’d try to pull the same stunt south of the Queensway? That’s how it works, creeping incrementalism. Reconstruction of Bronson from the Queensway to the Rideau Canal is scheduled to take place in two years.

      1. In any event, the city has telegraphed it’s next move by buying land that would connect Hunt Club to the 417 from the NCC. Hunt Club becomes Larry O’Brien’s Ring Road.

  4. Thank-you to all who took the lead on this!
    Does anyone think that a “painted lines on the road” trial of the 3 lane configuration could be resurrected at this point? Now that road isn’t be widened, could one even turn the traffic engineers argument about safety and lane width back on them and say the only responsible thing to do as this point is decrease the number of lanes?
    As for the stated reason for the keeping the status quo re: hydro poles: hilarious. It’s so patently petty that it’s hard to even take offense.

    1. My guess is that the hydro pole fiasco cost the city about half a million dollars in planning and consultation/spindoctor costs. Plus the blown social capital. It’s stunning.

      1. Is it just me or do city council and staff seem to be at real loggerheads these days? The main opponent to the widening was Diane Holmes, the councillor for the area

  5. Does anyone else not feel like the whole road widening thing was a big sham? When the reconstruction of Bronson was announced, the Rescue Bronson squad were quick to suggest a road diet. The city freaked out, followed by the announcement that they were actually going to widen the street. Now after insisting on that for a while, they are saying that the road will actually maintain its current width. Was this all just a distraction to make us forget about the road diet? Are we supposed to be so relieved that the road isn’t getting wider that we won’t bring up the road diet again? Am I remembering the sequence of events wrong?

    Regardless, I haven’t forgot about the road diet, and I LOVE evensteven’s suggestion that all of the talk about minimum lane widths be thrown back at them now to make the case for a road diet! How can they argue that three nice full width lanes wouldn’t be safer than four outdated narrow ones?

  6. Nice work to all involved – phew!!!! I hope we can keep the pressure on the city to make Ottawa more favourable to people powered transportation 🙂

    1. The Mayor’s office sent me a reply which hoped that things had been resolved to “my satisfaction.”

      I set them straight that I was disappointed that the planning fell through on a technicality and not because of the fierce opposition and that I would be satisfied only if the road were reduced to a width that made sense for the road.

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