It seems Queen Street has been under construction for so long I’ve forgotten what it used to look like.
I shudder to think of what it would be like if the City had opted for cut-and-cover along that corridor rather than the deep mined tunnel.
Since several (big) holes had to be dug to provide ventilation or human access to the subway below, it made sense to rebuild the street and sidewalks at the same time. It was remarkably prudent for the city to try to widen the sidewalk zones at the same time to accommodate the hordes of people expected to be accessing the stations via Queen Street. And the pavers are pretty:
I remain concerned that the City has not shown itself capable of maintaining previously-installed concrete paver sidewalks. Once a few years old, will they become potholed like the ones on Wellington West, or god forbid, blanketed in Watson-bandaids made of cheapened black asphalt? Mind, I don’t think the city could lessen its asphalt specs any lower than the crappy quality it has called for during the current regime.
I’m not a fan of sticking in tree lots of tree transplants into ill-prepared holes in the paving base. In previous years our politicians opted for lots of trees with – IMO – low survival rates. “We tried” seemed more important than “we succeeded”. And I still fear that is the case when viewing the tree planting at Bayview Station, for example.
But along Queen I see some evidence of larger tree planting zones with more earth exposed to rain and air. Hopefully equal care went into making a good depth of topsoil for the tree roots, and that these are not just the same shallow tree pits elevated up behind granite curbs.
The built in “benches” are of the sort only architects could love. Completely backless, they do little to attract bums. Which may be the whole idea. And for 350 days of the year, they are bum-numbing cold. (The washroom in the public right of way, shown below, is only temporary. Ottawans can hold it in for a long long time.)
I entertain a faint hope that at the last minute wooden toppers will be added to the granite, similar to these benches on Fleet Street:
There are also a few “conventional” benches installed along the street, one shows up in the corner of a pic further on in this story.
A bit further west along Queen, I noticed some silva-cell tree planting zones outside 121 Bay Street condo, which lost most of its perimeter planter boxes that did so much to enhance the exterior of that Teron-designed and built brick complex.
It bears repeating: I’ll take fewer trees, very well planted, that may indeed grow and thrive, over sticking in dozens of doomed twigs.
Granite accents show up elsewhere along the street, for example, under this lamp post:
The post above is well sited, close to the curb, leaving a large unobstructed sidewalk. Elsewhere, pedestrians are not so lucky:
Alas, not only will most of the granite pedestal be out of sight, the post is set too far back from the curb.
Please do note that I said “set too far back from the curb”. Because light posts and other obstructions on the sidewalk (quaintly called “street furniture” as if that makes them more palatable) should be located to accommodate pedestrians.
But on Queen Street, like most Ottawa streets, the lights are arranged in dead straight rows for blocks at a time, regardless of where they land on the sidewalk. These look great from cars. The faster moving, the more regular and nice they look. They frame in the sides of the street with a nice regular edge.
Of course, to the motorist, any wandering curbs thus become annoying obstructions. Preston is the only street I know of that the lights were arranged to relate to the sidewalks and bulb outs rather than the travel lanes. We remain resolutely auto-centric.
At the intersection below, one of those dreadful traffic-signal control boxes that seem to proliferate like triffids:
Yes, the City allowed the regulated 5′ clearance on the curbside of the box to permit a sidewalk plow to pass. But still, the damn box is in the middle of the sidewalk. And on a larger concrete pedestal to boot, to protect IT from those same damaging plows.
Later, I gather we may gain some of those “kiosk pillars” with advertising, maps, and directional indicia on them. The NCC has a bunch on its Ceremonial Route. Mind, in Montreal, they sometimes combined the traffic control boxes with the kiosks. And in most cities the control boxes are waaaaaay smaller and hang on the signal post itself. But we apparently have such as surplus of sidewalk space we can afford freestanding boxes and posts, one per city silo.
Queen Street pavers are mostly gray, with pink and black accent pieces. I expect this street design will be the model for the rebuilding of Albert and Slater. As it seems to be the model for rebuilding Elgin. I do hope each street gets different coloured accent pavers. It would help, sort of mental breadcrumbs to help one find the way and distinguish one street from another.