Just where to put all those transitway buses when the transitway closes in 2015 remains elusive. You probably read the Citizen story http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/ottawa/Scott+Street+replace+Transitway+during+project+city+saying/9157057/story.html. This will provide some more info, and an alternative “solution” to Jeff Leiper’s.
The transitway section of concern is between Tunneys Pasture and Empress (where the Good Companions Centre is, and the transitway joins the beginning of the Albert-Slater one way pair that goes into the downtown). The City has to take the buses off it, in order to build the Stations at Tunneys and LeBreton; and to convert the asphalt bus way to tracks for the trains.
While community associations and councillors made a lot of noise about diverting the buses to the Queensway, Carling, the Parkway, or indeed anywhere but Scott-Albert, it was always obvious to me that the simplest “solution” was to put them on Scott, as it parallels the transitway, riders won’t get lost, and schedules will remain pretty much the same.
This has rather dire consequences for the adjacent householders, though. Along Scott, there are homes and businesses that have lost their setback from the street due to previous road widenings. There are driveways, too; and a number of side street intersections.
On the Albert section, the homes of Walnut Court, 35 Preston, and the first phase of LeBreton flats (constructed in the early 1980’s) back onto the street, with varying levels of walls and fences. East of Booth, to Empress, the situation reverts to traditional red brick homes facing the busy street.
Community reps (including myself) last met with the Rail Implementation Office folks on October 2nd. They still don’t have any plans of how to handle the buses. In a complex, dynamic environment like the LRT project, I’m not surprised that they are focussing on what needs to be physically done first rather than what needs to be done later on, when the “later on” is for the peace of mind (or not) of residents rather than an essential cog in the construction process. It’s also much easier to “force” the solution on Council at the last minute if there isn’t time to explore alternatives.
The Albert section is complicated by the still-undesigned Albert-Booth intersection, which has been ballooning in size and complexity as the traffic boffins try to fit in traffic, buses, bike lanes, sidewalks, and ped waiting areas. To say nothing of the long concrete bridge that takes Booth high over the LRT tracks; it has grown enormously and unacceptably wide, and expensive.
Where is the Boxfish Group when we really need a total rethink here? Could we please get a bunch of consultants and locals into a workshop to hash out something totally new?
And don’t forget, Booth has to close (xxx’d line, below) for several years during the LeBreton Station construction period. Traffic will be detoured on a temporary road (red line) built north from Preston over to Vimy Street intersection in front of the War Museum. All this complicates the road geometry enormously.
Do I have a suggested solution? Of course.
While the buses are put onto Scott-Albert, we want to minimize the regular commuter car traffic on the road. Individual motorists can find their own alternative routes. So, I’d put the two bus lanes in the middle of Scott-Albert, with an east bound local car lane on the south curbside, and and westbound local car lane on the north curbside. This avoids any “contra flow” situations.
Once the buses leave Tunney’s, and get onto the centre lanes, they won’t be needing curbside bus stops, remember, these are express or 95 type transitway routes. So from Tunney’s east ward there would be no stops until the OTrain station at Bayview. I’d go for a road widening on each side of the overpass** over the train tracks, with island platforms for bus passengers. Eastbound on the east side of the overpass; westbound on the west side. [Or vice versa, if you want buses starting on the downslopes].
The island platforms for passengers would be separated from the outside car lanes by jersey barriers with a 3′ glass splash shield on top. Rather like the Spadina Streetcar stations in Toronto. Passengers would have only a single lane of traffic to cross to the to the outside sidewalk and walkway down under the bridge to the existing OTrain platform.
If OC Transpo wants to permit transfers at the new Preston extension over to Gatineau, then a similar station would be required at Preston. However, this is pretty close to the OTrain station … and I question if a stop is needed at all (more on this below).
IF a station is built at Preston, putting centre platforms running down Albert, they would not bugger up the existing Preston-Albert intersection, because there will no longer be all the Albert traffic turning onto Preston, or turning onto Booth to go to Hull, or coming the opposite way. Instead it would go straight north-south through the intersection, sans turns, making the jog over to Booth and the Chaudiere Bridge via the New Wellington in front of the War Museum.
The reason I think we could “do away” with the temporary station at Preston to replace the out-of-commission LeBreton Station at Booth, is because there are alternative transfer opportunities uptown or at Tunney’s.
And because post-LRT opening in 2017-18, the city intends to run a limited number of 95-type buses east from Tunney’s and directly over to Gatineau on Booth, so that west end riders won’t have to transfer at Tunneys (onto the LRT) and again at Bayview (to the OTrain) or LeBreton (onto a bus to Gatineau) *. Instead of waiting until 2018 for this new bus scheme, implement it now, to avoid a temporary LeBreton Station.
Similarly, bus users from the east would transfer to Hull buses in the downtown, not at LeBreton, during construction.
So for the bus rider, coming from the west, the bus would follow the transitway to Tunney’s; then the temporary transitway down the centre of Scott, to a temporary station platforms at Bayview, continuing along Albert to possibly a transfer station at Preston (but maybe not …) and thence further east to the resumption of the existing transitway lanes on Albert and Slater starting at the Good Companions.
So what happened to the car traffic now on Scott-Albert?
The presence of the bus lanes in the centre of the street would mean a no left turn restriction for the whole length of Scott-Albert between Tunney’s and Good Companions. The restriction is necessary for the safe movement of the buses (see, for example, difficulties if this isn’t done, as in Dallas or the new Rapibus system in Gatineau). This restriction will scare away much of the rush hour through traffic.
We’ve closed Bronson for a year, and traffic found alternate routes. We’ve closed two lanes of Scott-Albert for two years of pipeline construction, and traffic found alternative routes. So closing Scott-Albert again doesn’t bother me.
Locals would still use Scott-Albert to access driveways and side streets (right turns only). Instead of left turns, motorists would have to rejig their routes so that they cross Scott-Albert only at right angles, at signalized intersections (Holland, Parkdale, Carruthers, Bayview, Preston).
Removing the majority of commuter traffic from Scott would reduce traffic noise and proximity, minimally compensating for the additional noise of 190 buses per hour per direction on the centre lanes. The Hellish walking conditions on Scott-Albert would also need attention, although these haven’t bothered the city to date.
The above scenarios might work, and I toss them out for discussion.
The alternative isn’t to propose something magical that won’t happen (put them on the Parkway !), or to wring our hands at the additional noise, or to wait until the city delivers a fait accompli at the last minute. Provided the street is repaved before all the buses hit it, residents should be able to withstand two years of bus traffic.
The city’s compensatory offer, of course, dangling on the horizon, are the “complete streets” drawings they are now flashing about the community, with double tree’d boulevards (tree, sidewalk, bike track, tree), three to four lanes of traffic, and tree, bike track, sidewalk, tree, again.
Do we accept the city’s promise to implement these complete streets when there is no guarantee they will be promptly implemented?
And alas, this complete street misses the number 1 cyclist choice for an off-road bike path, but the bike tracks will work, even if 4th best, because they are better than what we have now. http://ottawabicyclelanesproject.createsend1.com/t/i-l-atrtdy-ikkkhluh-z/
* the city currently starts the westbound run of a few 95 type buses from Place du Portage in Hull now; I am just adding a few more, and a reverse route in the mornings …
** but not widening the overpass itself; the temporary station platforms would be on the slopes to and from the bridge portion.