I suggest you read Part i — the previous post — before reading this part. Some points are valid from post to post, and it would be boring to repeat them each time. Reading the comments is also fun and educational.
This review of the options always starts at the Bayview Station (top right corner), ie I talk from east to west.
The O-Train corridor option uses existing transportation corridors to take the LRT south then west. It would bump the Otrain off its track, forcing it to terminate at Carling. This LRT option is unlikely to be selected as it has some severe engineering problems:
- it uses up the prime north/south corridor route into the downtown for the east-west service. It will be difficult to widen that cut for four tracks.
- the turn at Carling to go west is very sharp. If the LRT continues under Carling and then swings west, the curvy deep cut will severely restrict future development of the sites on the south side of Carling (despite being grass now, they are not parkland, they are redevelopment sites in training). [note: air rights are developable over straight LRT tracks but very difficult to work out on curves].
- the deep cut then has to cut back under Carling (near Sherwood) to access the median alignment, and then promptly go up the steep hill to the west. The steep hill is a real challenge for an LRT at grade, it is likely impossible to climb the hill and climb out of a 20′ deep cut too (so I am told).
- an alternative geometry would have the LRT start climbing out of the cut at the Queensway, be at grade by time it reaches Beech Street (closing Beech) and then rising to an elevated structure 20′ above the adjacent houses before swinging west at 853 Carling (impairing development of that site too) and remaining elevated along the median until it meets the incline as Carling goes uphill to the Farm. Ugly.
- there is limited development potential along this portion of Carling, assuming the Farm is undevelopable. Westgate mall is a prime redevelopment site but is not large.
- a separate stub line or bus service would be required from Bayview to Tunney’s, complicating matters
- a OC Transpo bus transfer station would be required at Bayview, in addition to the proposed STO rapibus station
The Holland Avenue option: unlikely choice, as it is difficult to service the major employment centre station at Tunney’s Pasture and then swing south; there is severely limited redevelopment possibilities along the route; and it would be a difficult sell to put in an intermediate station to service the generally low density surrounding neighborhoods, especially if that station had to be a bus transfer point. It also does not include much benefit to the redevelopable area of Scott west of Tunney’s.
Island Park is another choice, it has easier turn radii at the north and south ends, making turns from the transitway cut on the north and onto Carling at the south, much easier. Otherwise, it suffers from similar problems to Holland: low density, limited redevelopment potential (so long as we continue to view single family low density inner suburbs as sacrosanct), and offers much mid-block station design and access grief.
It is worth pointing out here that all these north south linkages assume the route will be cut and cover, ie the road will be dug up, a trench cut into the base, the track laid, the trench covered with dirt or bridged over with a concrete road surface. Once built, the LRT would be invisible underground.
Kirkwood/McRae is a wide corridor with similar assets and liabilities as the others, but with a easy turn radius at the north end to connect to the existing transitway cut countered by an awkward jog to get from McRae to Kirkwood (unless it ran under the Loblaw’s parking lot).
The Tweedsmuir Hydro corridor option is the first non-road option. It would follow the electrical utility corridor. Like the others, it would be cut and cover, operating underground throughout its length. Hydro One has serious objections to this route, claiming, amongst other things, potential electrical interference between the LRT and overhead wiring. (nice to know, if you live along that corridor…) At least the corridor option gets planners thinking about it as a corridor. If not used for the LRT, I think it should be aggressively redeveloped as a pedestrian and cycling spine: it has fewer intersections than adjacent streets, it could be pleasant and scenic.
The Churchill and Broadview corridors permit the continued use of most of the existing transitway trench and the Westboro Station (although a good argument could be made to relocate the Westboro station to a new location under the Churchill/Richmond road intersection, except that handling bus movements becomes awkward). Most of Scott Street has with ample opportunity for infill development on its south side (eg, decaying industrial stuff at McRae; the former CBC Lanark Avenue site on the north side is already identified for intensification). The Churchill corridor services office parks at the Carling end and would promote intensification along the Carling corridor going west.
It is interesting to try to forecast the impact any of these north-south segments would have on adjacent neighborhoods. Right now, the city lacks the will to permit large scale intensification of these neighborhoods, permitting mostly smaller infills of singles and duplexes. The city does encourage intensification on the east-west segments (Scott, Richmond, Carling), but is that enough to justify the N/S LRT service? There is no doubt in my mind that the presence of LRT service and a walk-in or local-bus transfer station would drastically increase house values and land prices in the area. However, there is literature that says it won’t actually increase ridership, since those affluent households will continue to use their (multiple) cars for most trips. Transit-generating intensification needs to include housing for lower-income households, starter households (our childrens’ first houses), downsized homes, student housing … none of which are likely in premium priced trendy urban neighborhoods characterizing these north-south streets.
Along Carling itself, the planning takes it for granted that intensification and redevelopment is good and will proceed apace. The land owners are on board, as is the city’s official plan. But there are many hurdles to implement that rosy scenario: I expect many merchants will object to reduced left-turn options when the Carling median has LRT on it (intersections must be minimized). For longer-haul riders, the Carling route is likely to be the slowest option, as no amount of signalized intersection priority will permit the same speed and level of service for transit users as a separate right of way would provide.
For adjacent residential areas just off Carling, will they be enthusiastic about high rises, high-intensity residential and commercial redevelopment along Carling? Or will NIMBY be the operative word? And finally, I have some concerns about the rosy pictures planners paint of store fronts directly on Carling Avenue sidewalks thronging with pedestrians and shoppers … I think Carling will remain a busy vehicular arterial that is not conducive to pedestrians, cyclists, or shoppers. See Bronson, where high rises and higher densities alone do not an attractive main street create. After all, most of the neighborhoods surrounding Carling are also products of the 1960’s auto-fetish and to take the car is the dominant mode of getting anywhere.
All of the Carling options must make a sharp turn south at Lincoln Fields. The existing station location to the north of Carling, conveniently close to high rises and the redevelopable shopping centre site, is unlikely to be salavagable. Instead, a new station would be further east of the turn, or maybe further south more adjacent to Woodroffe High School, a location that lacks significant redevelopment potential and which is further way from the walk-ins generated by high rises. Could OC Transpo actually get a bus station in the “greenspace” behind the very high priced homes there?
Earlier plans for the Pinecrest Creek portion — where the existing bus transitway now runs — included keeping the BRT from Barrhaven open to Lincoln Fields and building a parallel LRT line to College station. This is looking increasingly financially unattractive. We simply cannot afford two high volume transit services in the same corridor, the land take is greatly increased, and the traffic volume for each is effectively split in two, making it harder to justify keeping the BRT.
And what of BRT connections to the west, along the Queensway or at Roman Avenue? Many options are being kept open, selecting any one will have significant impacts on the viability of the others. If the BRT is kept open to the Qway, should it be kept open to College Station too?
At Iris, the transitway currently has an mini-station at grade. The situation is difficult: Pinecrest creek passes diagonally under the current intersection. It is difficult to either submerge or elevate the LRT due to the slopes and creek. There isn’t enough room to submerge or elevate Iris, before the road is in front of existing housing. This leads to the suggestion to close off Iris to motorists, ie there would be an Iris west of Woodroffe, and another Iris east of Greenbank, but not connected. This might actually appeal to many local residents. Another consideration is fire and other emergency access. A pedestrian-cyclist e/w crossing would continue with a grade-separation structure.
Tomorrow: the Ottawa River corridor options.