If the western LRT does not go via Carling Avenue, there is a whole set of options in the Richmond-Byron corridor, shown below:
The Churchill-Richmond option had a fatal flaw: too sharp a turn at the corner of Richmond and Churchill. The McRae-Richmond option required redoing the Westboro Station and then entering a short sharp S turn, something that engineers love — NOT. Another McRae option put a President’s Choice station at Loblaws and then turned west under Byron. That tunnel section would have emerged just west of the Westboro Station condo development. Here’s what is left:
The Churchill-Byron option digs cut and cover tunnels under Churchill, and turns “at the top of the hill” (but really underground, so there is no “hill”) which requires taking out the laundromat there (call out the heritage buffs). All of the options following use some part of Byron. More details of how that might work along Byron are several slides down. The cut and cover tunnel under Churchill and Byron would come out just west of Westboro Station condos, which would have a station called … wait for it … Byron Station. Am I alone in thinking we may need to rename some stations in this area?
The slide below shows another option at the western end of the Byron route, taking it up to Carling via a cut and cover tunnel under Woodroffe. This has the merit of serving Carlingwood, a major destination now and intensification area for the future.
All of the above options turned south from the existing transitway trench. There is one option that uses all of the trench, all the way to Dominion Station. Dominion Station would have to be realigned a bit as the LRT would turn west at Dominion (this realignment is pretty easy, as the station is merely two bus shelters; but the new station would be heated and have a grade separated ped and cyclist crossover). This option does NOT take out or change the current lanes of the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway. Rather, the LRT somewhat follows the south side bike path a short distance to Rochester Field.
Rochester Field is currently a vacant lot. It is not part of the Parkway. Negotiations are under way to sell it to the City. Parkland is apparently so scarce and valuable in the leafy McKeller Park area that the City is seriously considering putting the LRT in a tunnel under the park in order to preserve parkland and access the south side of Richmond. No such respect is being offered to Dalhousie or Hintonburg residents who are being offered an open cut which cannot be covered over “due to the expense”. Plus ca change…
There are two options as the line goes west along Richmond. One follows the sosuth side of Richmond Road all the way to Lincoln Fields. The other deeks up Woodroffe to hit Carlingwood before heading west. I have yet to see a layout of how the line would get off Carling and still hit the existing Lincoln Fields station alignment. I suspect that the need to angle the line north off Carling, then sharp south (a turn of about 110 degrees) while simultaneously rising from the Carling median up and over the westbound Carling lanes and then down to enter the station and go under Carling Avenue … will be a problem. Even if engineerable, will riders like the corkscrew motion?
The City has a nifty sketch showing how the LRT might tunnel under Rochester Field, you will see it a few slides down.
A variation of the above line uses a longer stretch of the River Parkway lands. The LRT would run along the south side of the Parkway almost to Cleary. It would then tunnel under Richmond to a point just beyond Woodroffe, and run on the surface after that. These options utilize the straight line to connect Dominion to Richmond (which makes for faster trains, which means less cost to construct and operational savings forever). Conveniently, the engineers have managed to keep all the stations above ground, which should please their budget masters and their customers .
I was really impressed by how well the LRT works out along the Richmond-Byron stretch. The consultants realized that Richmond is three-four lanes in the middle, but only two lanes at each end. So they put the road on a diet, and made it two lanes all the way. It would become less like a highway and more like a street. They then snuggled the LRT between Richmond and the dog-paths in the linear park. The result: no major loss of trees; a calmed Richmond Road; a refocused Byron Avenue that serves adjacent residential streets and less of a parallel raceway to Richmond Road; and fewer streets crossing the Byron linear park, making it a better neighborhood park.
Only at the stations would the LRT facilities creep into the linear park, but these could well be assets rather than detractions. Sorry for the small pic below, but squint at it long enough and you can figure out the details. On the left, pic 1 is LRT track between Richmond road and the linear park; pic 2 shows a station. Pic 3 and 4 show the tunnel section, which would be built using cut and cover, so there will be (temporary) tree loss.
On the top right (of the picture below) the LRT train leaves Dominion off to the left, passes in front of the office building and Keg Manor, and angles into the tunnel under Rochester Field, later to emerge between Richmond Road and linear park. The last pic at the bottom right shows a train stopped at a surface station along Richmond Road.
Next: the (dreaded) Ottawa River Parkway options.