Last week, city staff offered some briefings on the western LRT options. Recall that the current downtown Ottawa transit tunnel study, now renamed Ottawa Light Rail Transit/Tunnel (OLRT), covers that portion from Blair Road in the east to Tunney’s Pasture in the west. However, the first components of the LRT system includes a service from Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields, but under a different Environmental Approval process. The western portion might be completed at the same time as the downtown portion, or shortly thereafter.
City council directed that staff consider various options running west from Bayview Station (Council selected Bayview in order to include the O-Train corridor and full Carling Avenue options; a leg would still be required to Tunney’s, as it is the second largest employment node in the city).
Obviously, the WLRT has to connect with the downtown portion, and somehow with the O-Train, and possibly a connection to Gatineau (either rail or bus) via the Prince of Wales Bridge. And at its western end, Lincoln Fields, there will be a major bus transfer point for buses to Kanata. All trains that run through the downtown will run to Lincoln Fields. The rail line would eventually extend further south to College Square, where underground station facilities are already being built as part of the new Algonquin trades building. From there,Nepean south and Barrhaven customers would transfer to buses.
Note that the bus transitway’s current connection to the Queensway will be closing when MOT widens the Queensway, in part to carry all the buses being moved off the transitway during conversion to LRT tracks. Eventually, the LRT could be extended west from Lincoln Fields to Bayshore and then to Kanata.
As shown in the following slide, the downtown commuter drives the system. They require a high level of service from Lincoln Fields east to the downtown. The reverse flow, ie, people commuting out of the downtown, is only 25% of the downtown-oriented flow, but that is enough to provide good revenue (the lack of backhaul on current express buses to the far suburbs is a financial killer for BRT).
The LRT system will be as grade-separated as possible. However, in a significant clarification from previous descriptions, the track is not being described as fully-fenced off. Just as buses can travel along a road at 80kmh and not be separated from pedestrians by a fence, the LRT line need not be fenced. Crossings can still be controlled by careful landscaping and berming, and a discrete chain or similar “crossable” barrier will permit people to cross the tracks much like they cross the street or the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway lanes now. Underpasses and overpasses will also be provided and crossing traffic will be gently steered towards those. The exclusive right of way, therefore, is exclusive of cars, but not of pedestrians. Similar permitted crossings occur now across the transitway at the Preston extension, across the O-train south of Confederation Hts, and along the ORP.
Here are the corridors for the Western LRT. Over the next few posts, I’ll run through each set of the major options.