WLRT Stations, part iii, New Lincoln Fields, new Iris Stations

The new Lincoln Fields Station will, in the LRT era, no longer be a major transfer station, and can be downsized dramatically. The little Iris Station, now merely a bus shelter on the verge, gets major engineering.

When the first transitway plans for Lincoln Fields Station were revealed back in the 70’s, the station was directly under the Carling Avenue overpass. The neighbours to the south objected, claiming excessive noise and rowdy behaviour by station patrons, some councillor chimed in that the underpass location would be dark and dangerous, so the expensive drive in-drive out transfer station was built north of Carling.

After nearly half a century in the “wrong” location, it looks like the future LRT Station will be efficiently located with its middle section underneath the Carling Avenue overpass. This means buses along Carling can stop curbside, unload and load passengers, and carry straight on, without dawdling through the off-road transit station.

aerial view

One probable reason for the relocation is to get a straight stretch of track since one of the planning priorities on our LRT system is no stations on curves. The new station plan frees up the old transitway station and its circuitous roads and parking lot for reversion back to parkland, although a modified version of the passenger pick up and drop off area is to be kept.

While the function of this station looks good, there are a couple of worries, which local community associations and lobby groups need to address:

  • the station designs seem to be getting simpler and cheaper as one leaves the core, with these ones being simple boxes with flat roofs. In a high visibility location like this, the peaked sloped roofs of the original 13 stations should be continued. The distinctive station roof lines are powerful marketing, wayfinding,  and advertising for the LRT lines.
  • the all weather protected crossing of the parkway via an elevated footbridge will be removed. Instead, pedestrians will have to use the Carling Avenue mini-sidewalk, which is windswept and frequently a wall of slush or airborne water. It desperately needs glass railings, wider sidewalks, and some setback from the travel lanes.
  • And, those merge-style on- and off-ramps from the Parkway will need to be civilized, squared-off, probably as a signalized intersection. Otherwise access to the transit station for those who walk will be severely impeded.
  • while improving the bridge, cycle tracks would be nice … oh oh, like at Pimisi Station, OC Transpo objects to people riding bicycles fearing they will drive at high speed through hordes of waiting bus users, scattering them like skittles. But is it good to ignore people who cycle along Carling?
  • traffic on Carling speeds up dramatically between Edgeworth and Lincoln Fields, as the road is wider and “wide open” looking. With the probably removal of the park and ride traffic light, this will be an even longer straight stretch. Traffic calming is needed. Trees in raised planters along the centre median would help. A new light might be warranted at the intersection of the off ramps.

Here is the City’s plan view of the station, albeit rather cluttered with lots of lines:

plan view

Depending on the final alignment of the tracks south of the Station, the Woodroffe HS ped bridge over the parkway may have to be relocated. AND, there is the opportunity to “daylight” the Pinecrest Creek which in a fit of NCC tidyness back in the 70’s was sewerized just south of here, near the pedestrian bridge. It would be good to have it visible again.

History Trivia:  Looking at the air photo above, a bit of ghostly history appears. Notice the faint trace of a circular ramp on the south east quadrant, right behind the homes of Whitehaven. This was to be the main off ramp of the Parkway, for cars to go east to Woodroffe and then south to Barrhaven. Instead the “temporary” construction off ramp at Woodroffe itself was kept, afflicting residents there with endless through traffic, and making the east bound off ramp at Carling superfluous. Its roadbed outline is also visible when standing on the south side of Carling.

The Iris Station.  Currently, Iris station is, like Dominion, a rather forlorn cluster of bus shelters at the intersection of the transitway and Iris.

The location is difficult to engineer, due to the presence of the shallow Pinecrest Creek and the anomalous at-grade intersection of Iris and the transitway which must become grade-separated. Somehow three levels of infrastructure have to be inserted in one area while allowing for existing water and sewer services to continue.

In the plan, many of the multi-use pathways in the area will need major relocation, including the bridges over the creek and the at-grade pathway crossing between Iris and Baseline. The creek itself will get rebuilt in a new alignment, entirely on the east side of the LRT (the west side creek bed might be useful as a spring flood storage zone if regraded as a swale or rain meadow). Once relocated, it becomes a simpler task to grade separate the LRT from Iris.

plan view

An earlier option dead-ended Iris on either side of the transitway-come-LRT alignment, with a pedestrian overpass, which would have cut out a lot of through traffic through the west end neighbourhood. But the plan now shows Iris rising up and over the in-a-shallow cut LRT line. The Iris overpass will allow the west side multi-use pathway through the parkland to go under Iris, thus avoiding the current intersection. The current east-side pathway will then terminate at Iris.

The station itself will remain dead simple: two open platforms, accessed by long ramps from Iris, no stairs or elevators required. Passenger pick up and drop off points and bus stops will be located at the ends of the Iris bridge.

aerial view




17 thoughts on “WLRT Stations, part iii, New Lincoln Fields, new Iris Stations

  1. Wait.. Why would Lincoln Fields be a less major transfer station than it is now? I think it would be more major, given that more buses would likely terminate at Lincoln Fields… Hurdman on the other hand will be less major.

    1. The transitway has waaay fewer potential transfer points from local bus to rapid city-wide transit services. More stations = more transfer points. Extending the LRT to Bayshore and Baseline (someone please rename that Algonquin or College) means fewer transfers at Lincoln. Instead, major transfer points will be at Baseline and Bayshore — see upcoming story on that.

      1. I don’t know… I have always used Lincoln Fields the most, and a lot of people transfer at Lincoln Fields to go to Baseline to take another bus and vice versa… The 85 is a popular route and the 97 is also a common route. After LRT is extended west to Baseline and Bayshore, based on where I have lived in Ottawa, I still expect to use it as my most major station… And still expect that those making the same connections will continue to do so.

        1. No doubt Bayshore and Baseline will be more major transfer stations than they have ever been (they both already are) ! That doesn’t mean Lincoln Fields will be less major than it already is! When I was in Vancouver area, it seemed Bridgeport Station (similar to Lincoln Fields in this context) was the most major Skytrain Station in Richmond!

        2. Don’t be distracted by current bus routes. Pretty much every route will be rejigged to end at one of the major rail stations designed for bus/rail connectivity.

          1. Oh, in this case most of the routes serving Lincoln Fields generating transfers at the station are mainline routes that are separated from the transit way… So I am speaking directly to that passenger volume flow… No reason the 85 won’t continue its current route on Carling or the 16 to Brittania and Dovercourt.. Or the 2 on Richmond.

  2. Just looking at all the single family housing in the plan views illustrates the folly of the whole route choice for a rail based transit system, build in a ravine and through a major riverside linear park. It should have gone on Carling.where there is actually a continuous band of demand, and could of course still have served the transfers from the suburbs at the line ends. But the choice was not logic but the path of least resistance. And on top of that we are going to spend money to bury the system/

    1. Personally I expect that the LRT lines will be full from Bayshore, Baseline and Place d’Orleans. The reasons? The park and ride lot at Eagles on is at capacity, Barrhaven is an ever growing community, and Orleans has the most transit users. I’ve also seen where an agency wants higher capacity trains going through any area that is a similar route alignment to the western LRT extension, with comparable density.

  3. That decision to follow and extend the transitway route is done and over. There is still lots of potential for intensification near each LRT Station. The Lincoln Fields shopping centre for one; the old CBC site near Westboro Station for another as well as the Scott strip from churchill to Lanark … the IKEA site is huge and mostly empty (ie parking lot) and there is space around the Citizen plant and all along Queensview. The SFD neighbourhoods will see more gradual intensification as that is what is politically saleable, but intensify they well. Starting this summer, one can sever corner lots ,… and 1970’s mini strip malls are great apartment sites with stores on the street level. College Square area has huge potential, as most pad retail stores have a 10 year amortization and 20 year maximum life expectancy. And look at all the space around the city’s constellation square site, already zoned for additional office buildings. The LRT route will change the city’s growth dynamic, but it wont happen in one day.

  4. Re: the ramp in the SE quadrant at Carling and the Parkway

    This ramp wasn’t “to be the main off ramp of the Parkway, for cars to go east to Woodroffe and then south to Barrhaven”.

    In fact it was to be the main onramp from Carling eastbound to Parkway, also eastbound. This can be seen in the geoOttawa website using the aerial map from 1976. That imagery also shows that the NCC’s plan was to take the Parkway further south along the Pinecrest Creek corridor, likely at least as far as the Queensway.

    It was closed when the Transitway was built and the current onramp in the southwest quadrant installed in its place. While it is understandable that the ramp was closed to car traffic, it is somewhat surprising that the RMOC didn’t incorporate it into the Transitway as it would have allowed easy access to the station for routes such as the 97 and 85… but they probably weren’t thinking too far ahead back then, as is evident by the difficulties in converting the Transitway generally.


    1. Oh yes, for the all-important car access to/from the Parkway, they could install a signalized intersection at the west end of the bridge and consolidate it all onto the north side in a T-intersection, thus allowing for the complete removal of the ramps in the southwest quadrant.

  5. At Iris/Pinecrest, I rather wish they would just relocate the main channel of Pinecrest Creek to the west side of the LRT line. It’s already on the west side a bit further south, so this would save adding yet another road crossing.

    The bit of Pinecrest Creek currently lying on the east side of the Transitway could be modified into a stormwater retention pond (for Iris and the surrounding neighbourhoods) that drains south, not north (once it enters Pinecrest Creek at the next LRT/Twy crossing to the south, it would of course flow north again). Lord knows the water emerging from Pinecrest Creek at the Ottawa River is pretty foul, so really some action is needed to improve its water quality somehow, and adding a major stormwater pond at its biggest cross street seems like one way to help.

    1. I agree, David. As drawn, the requirement for a creek crossing between Iris and the 417 will limit the depth of the trench that the tracks are in. A short distance north, the tracks need to pass under the Queensway, meaning that the drop between the creek and the 417 will be a steep one. If the creek were moved to the west it would be out of play for the most part; allowing the trench to be deeper under Iris and Iris to remain flat. A deeper trench at Iris also means that the slope to the 417 underpass can be more gradual. The creek is currently west of the Transitway both south and north of Iris, so why not keep it on the west side?

  6. re: Iris “The station itself will remain dead simple: two open platforms, accessed by long ramps from Iris, no stairs or elevators required.”

    Required, no, but the City is considering adding stairs to allow people crossing the bridge to shortcut the long ramps.

  7. As someone who bikes through there along the River and Pinecrest bike paths on my way from Champlain Park to Centrepointe or to teach evening classes at Algonquin, I can’t tell if this option will fix the *incredibly* awkward, time consuming, and dangerous mandatory crossing at Iris, where you have to go from the main path on the West side over to the East side, then cross back to the West side a few hundred metres South across a blind stretch of Transitway.

  8. Agree completely about all those Transitway crossings; such a bad design. I especially dislike the crossing just to the north of Queensway station, where you’re supposed to stop with your back to the parallel bus ramp and look over your shoulder to see if it’s okay to cross. Bikes and buses don’t mix, and when you layer on the inconvenience factor, you encourage frustrated people to take risks rather than dutifully stop and look both ways, dismount, walk across the right turn ramp and wait at the beg button, and look again, and walk to the next beg button, and wait, walk across… all to just re-cross the Transitway again in a couple hundred meters.

    It should help out the awkward crossings at Iris, since they’d have to provide an over/underpass to grade separate cycling (and cars on Iris) and trains. Crossings will still have to happen I guess, since there won’t be MUPs to serve both sides of the track, but at least it won’t be with intersecting train traffic at grade like we currently do with the buses. Here’s hoping it doesn’t involve a lot of hair-pin corners or long ramp detours, though.

    1. I believe that the rendering shows a MUP on EACH side of the tracks between Iris and Baseline, including an underpass of Iris on each side. Only the west side MUP will continue north of Iris, though; which is too bad, since there will be lots of space under the 417, on both sides, once the Queensway Station is removed.

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