Wandering around the Flats — Booth Street overpass

The city has gone to great pains to assure the neighbourhoods around the Flats that the reconstructed Albert Street and Booth Street won’t be urban freeways. Instead they’ll be typical downtown streets.

You know. Short blocks. Frequent intersections. Signalized intersections. Low speeds. Pedestrian-centric environments that encourage walking and transit, and not speeding cars. Max of two lanes in each direction.

Mind, the first iteration, in the form of the “temporary” Albert Street and “temporary” Preston Extension didn’t actually get anywhere near those goals. They are reincarnations of King Edward Expressway sans the pretense of landscaping.

I do wonder, looking at the Booth Street overpass, just how pedestrian friendly it will be. Not yet finished, it already has signs warning there is no bike track or bike lane.



At one of the planning meetings before construction I pointed out to the engineers that the official approved plan for Booth shows the curb lanes north of the LRT station  as being for off-peak parking lanes for the shops and apartments to be located along side the curb when Claridge gets around to building. They looked shocked.

Somehow, the evolving project looks like a freeway to me. Maybe it will look better when the combo bike track / sidewalks are added. And the bus stops for the No 85 and 95’s that come from Gatineau.

Here’s the view from back at the War Museum. Looks like a lot of bridge and road.


And from the Wellington – Booth intersection:



zoomed in:


Does it look better from Booth Street south of Albert, ie in the existing residential community built as phase 1 of redeveloping the Flats back in the 1980’s, when the philosophy was low rise (under 5 stories) and high density? Oops, looks like a get-ready-to-speed-up zone …




On the other hand, there is the view from the sides. Here’s the view from the current-but-nothing-building-now Claridge side:



It was always known that Booth would be elevated a bit from its old roadbed to pass over the transitway or LRT, which is one reason Claridge put the subsidized low income rentals portion of apartments against Booth Street, since in order for him to build those units the City had to build the road first … which the city has been reluctant to do …

Alas, there is much mumbling now that the Claridge site zoning is too low when it is so close to the Pimisi Station. So, goodbye to the rest of the planned 7 and 14 story mid-rise apartments, and probably to the “brownstones” too. How tall will the new buildings be? Well, we can estimate how high the garages have to be to bring the ground floors up to street level …



and here is the view of Booth from the west, by the temporary Preston Extension:


Why does building transit always turn into more and more road facilities for car commuters?


10 thoughts on “Wandering around the Flats — Booth Street overpass

    1. I find it really annoying when cyclists, (and I am one too), use the side walks. If you must, dismount and walk your bike. Our pug is terrified of them and lunges at the bicycles. Someday some cyclist is going to get their leg nipped.

      1. Glen, I think you’re missing the point cboucher and Eric are making. If the city were to build this – and other – roads properly, no one would ever NEED to either 1) dismount from their bike (which no one will reasonably do), or 2) resort to sidewalk biking for self-preservation.

        1. Hi- I got the point, I’m just asking that when the city makes poor decisions that cyclists not ride on sidewalks. They’re on the sidewalks on Preston near Albert all the time. Glen

  1. Don’t know if you read this, but I found if v. compelling:

    David Reevely’s been on fire lately.

    Booth Street would have “low cycling safety performance” because of “multiple conflict points between cyclists and buses” and “multiple conflict points between cars/trucks and cyclists.”

    This is plannerspeak for “the bridge will be dangerous” and “cyclists will die.”


    1. This is so deeply frustrating! The solution is quite simple. It’s called Google. The problem of bus stop/ bike lane conflicts was solved in 1953 in the Netherlands (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CmnMC1JWYAAg5wj.jpg:large) and they’ve only gotten more sophisticated ever since (https://twitter.com/DenVan/status/750350691533721600). This fantastic short video should be MANDATORY viewing for all traffic engineers at the City of Ottawa. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Pvhkx0153k) Scratch that, even better would be to send them all in turns to the Netherlands to spend a week working with Dutch traffic engineers.

      1. OC Transpo’s concerns at Booth aka Pimisi Station are a tad more justified than if it were simply a bus stop with a bike track that runs behind it. We have those installations at numerous places already, eg Churchill Avenue, and even at transitway stations such as the Queensway station, or even nearer-by, at the temporary LeBreton Station stops on Preston Extension. The complicating factor at Pimisi is that OC Transpo envisions hordes of people exiting the Station stairways and elevators and rushing across the track to jam into a No 85. And on that track they imagine there will be lycra clad 50 year old speed demon bearded male cyclists engaged in their daily time trials for the journey to work, anxious to shave a milisecond off their best time.

        As covered here before, track speeds by cyclists can be controlled via some curves, curbs, and planters as one enters the station plaza area. And ped traffic can be chanelled by carefully placed benches, planters, and pavement textures, to cross the track at two focussed points where the textured pavers would clearly signal to most people (some will always be oblivious, or asleep, or stupid, or all 3) that there is a crossing zone.

        The Booth Freeway design was also impacted by the City’s reluctance to ask the NCC for a slightly wider right of way to accomodate a cycle track, since the original ROW was granted by the NCC before cycle tracks were commonly understood in Ottawa and the NCC wished to restrict the city from adding too many car lanes.

        The original Booth overpass design also had a raised jersey barrier down the middle with a light well to illuminate the area below the very wide overpass; that is gone now, to allow more room for cars, altho I expect the central concrete jersey barrier to remain to prevent people from crossing the street when traffic engineers think they should enter the station, go down a flight of stairs, cross under the street, ascend another flight of stairs, perhaps paying a $3 fee to enjoy the detour.

        So much of this mess could have been avoided had the city bothered with consultations before finalizing the design. Instead, like all the stations, they are fait accompli’s and we are just now discovering the flaws and oversights.

        1. It’s one thing to say it would be great if the city bothered with consultations but from the changes at Lansdowne it became apparent that the city only listened to what they wanted to hear.

          For example, when it came to people saying that the traffic on game days would be a problem they were dismissed as NIMBYs. But I remember coming back from Carleton by bus on game nights in the early 90s and it would take 30 to 45 minutes to get by there. They had nothing to offer which improved the situation but just said not worry because they had a plan. Now that everything has been built we found out that they really didn’t have anything different to fix the problem.

          So even if they had consulted the public I doubt that anything would have changed. There are larger problems with the planning in the city than just not listening to the public.

  2. With so much talk about how difficult it is to make existing roadways people-friendly, we are now building this from scratch.

  3. It is absolutely terrible. The northern section Booth was already terrible to start with. The absence of proper cycling infrastructure will make it an even more dangerous environment for cyclists. It will be the equivalent of the Bank Street Bridge. The city should be ashamed of this design.

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