Western LRT (part i)

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.

3 thoughts on “Western LRT (part i)

  1. I thought the current EA was covering the Tunney’s to Baseline section, not just Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields. There are fewer options and challenges for the Lincoln Fields to Baseline segment so it’s not likely to be the primary focus. From what I’ve gathered so far there are 2 significant issues/decisions on that stretch.
    1) How should the reconfigured system meet the current demand for transitway service between South and West. Busing to Baseline then hoping on a train for one stop and then back on another bus at Lincoln Fields is probably not ideal. One option being considered is to twin the section between Baseline and Lincoln Fields and provide a corridor for both buses and trains. Personally I think they should look meeting the demand via direct service from Barrhaven to Kanata, and Baseline to Bayshore (planned secondary BRT).
    2) How should the LRT (or LRT+BRT) cross Iris? It would be easy to picture just dropping the level of the LRT under Iris. The corridor is downhill north of Iris so going under Iris would just mean lowering the corridor a bit earlier. But this is complicated by the Pinecrest Creek that runs under the current crossing. Maybe the cost of doing this is so prohibitive that Iris should be closed, but that would break a major local link. I think the Transitway should go under Iris and the creek should be kept on the east side of the corridor until after the intersection and then pass over the transit corridor once it is low enough to do so.

    There have also been some suggestions to bring the creek back above ground (going north from Iris it doesn’t see the light of day until the outlet to the Ottawa River). I think that’s a good idea that should be factored into facilities and route discussions for the stretch from Iris to the river.

  2. Daylighting the creek is an idea whose time has come. It is brought up frequently, by the consultants (from toronto) in the discussions. Whether Ottawa and NCC will bite is another concern. BTW, the creek becomes sewerized at Iris, but reappears just north of the Qway, and flows under the sun until a point opposite Woodroofe High School, where it gets sewerized again.

    You are correct that the LRT will eventually go the College Square, either at the same time it goes to Lincoln Fields or in a subsequent phase. In any case, the route is pretty much fixed. Last time it was mentioned, they refrred to the LRT as replacing the BRT lane, whereas in earlier meetings they held out the option of it being parallel to the BRT. But this was not discussed per se at the last meeting I attended. It does seem somewhat redundant to have two parallel transit systems …

    Read on, there will be posts on this for several days…

  3. Eric

    A valuable contribution for those of us without the time and the knowledge to follow this file in detail. Keep up the good work.


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