Richmond Underground identified as top Western Rail Route

The preferred route for the western extension of Ottawa’s light-rail service has been identified by the City of Ottawa.  The route, called the Richmond Underground, takes into account the community’s wishes to limit impact on the Byron Linear Park and the Parkway; will boost transit ridership; promotes the goals of the City’s Official Plan; and has the highest value for taxpayers’ dollars of all routes examined.

Background

Why the Carling Avenue LRT route is ruled out

When the Interim Report of the Western LRT Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment went to City Council in June, 2012, Council directed that further evaluation of all corridors be done, including Carling Avenue. That work, including a review by independent transportation experts, has been completed and shows conclusively that Carling Avenue is not viable.

When Carling Avenue underwent detailed evaluation - including assessments by expert panels, 13 community associations and the project’s public advisory group - it was at or near the bottom for all criteria.

As well, the City hired Capital Transit Partners to do a peer review of the work on the WLRT and the review found that Carling should be screened out of the possible corridors being shortlisted. Capital Transit Partners said costs would be very high, the passenger service would be poor and the negative visual impact of such a project combine to “make it a poor long-term choice for rapid transit.”

The following are some key facts that explain why Carling does not work:

A fractured transit network

It requires a spur line to Tunney’s Station. The spur line operation provides poor connection to a number of important destinations, such as Tunney’s Station, the second biggest employment area after downtown. The frequency of service to Tunney’s on the spur line would be much lower than today, travellers from the west would have to transfer at Bayview and backtrack, travellers from south would have to transfer first at Carling, and then at Bayview Station and backtrack.

The O-Train operation which is this year being expanded would have to be terminated at Carling because any east-west line coming from downtown would have to occupy the northern section of the O-Train corridor.

Reduced capacity and reliability of the line

Servicing Tunney’s Station with a spur line would reduce the capacity of the main line because some of the trains would have to service Tunney’s. The Tunney’s service would create a gap in the schedule on the Carling line.

If a Carling train service was at road grade, in the event of an accident at any one of those intersections, three trains would be backed up in each direction within nine minutes.

If the City slowed the trains at the 18 intersections to allow the regular north-south traffic flow, the service would be very slow ? inconvenient actually, for the thousands of commuters traveling from the western neighbourhoods.

Eighty per cent of the people riding Confederation Line trains to the west would not be getting on or off along Carling Avenue: Most of them would be coming from communities farther west than Lincoln Fields.

Impact on urban design

Having a dedicated right of way for a frequent, rapid transit service would require either gates at the intersections or an elevated system. Both of these approaches would divide the neighbourhoods all along Carling Avenue. With at-grade intersection operation, either the north-south traffic would be crippled or the trains would have to wait at the 18 signalized intersections.

An elevated system would change the city’s landscape.

Cost

To provide the required frequency and reliability of a primary line, the Carling line would have to be grade separated at most intersections. An elevated line would make it two to three times more expensive than the northern corridors. An underground line would be even more expensive.  

In summary

Light rail is the backbone of the City’s long-range transportation plan. By 2031, Ottawa’s LRT system will be carrying 18,000 riders in each direction hourly. Ultimately, with continued support from other levels of government to build light rail, the system could grow to 24,000 riders and a train would arrive every minute and 45 seconds during rush hour. Such a high-passenger, high-volume, rapid-transit system won’t work if one portion of it has all of the engineering and service challenges of Carling Avenue.

Parkway LRT corridor drops in ranking with new evaluation

For the interim environmental assessment study report on the western light-rail service in 2012, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway was identified as a strong contender, ranking second among 15 possible routes. After extensive consultation with the National Capital Commission, that corridor ranking been changed as the City of Ottawa moves towards completion of the study.

In the Interim Report of the Western LRT Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment to City Council in June, 2012, the parkway ranked second as a possible corridor. Council received the interim report and directed that all 15 possible corridors be further studied and that the NCC’s plans, including Horizon 2067 and the Capital Urban Lands Master Plan, be taken into account in the final evaluation of corridors.

The City worked with the NCC to refine the evaluation criteria for the possible routes, including a stronger focus on the national capital interests of the Commission. This re-evaluation included factors such as impact on cultural landscapes of the capital, respect for the symbolic character of the capital, enhancing walking and cycling and the need to mitigate the effect of City infrastructure on federal lands.

The re-evaluation took into consideration the unique Ottawa River waterfront and vistas that are part of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway lands.

The new evaluation also took into account all of the NCC’s plans and policies, which are designed to keep the capital as a destination for all Canadians.

The new evaluation resulted in Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway falling to fourth place of the original top four northerly corridors. Since then, the City has also developed two new possible corridors, based on feedback after the interim report to address community values particularly with respect to the Byron linear park.

The City of Ottawa will be working with the NCC on issues such as maintaining and improving access to the Ottawa River pathways and federal greenspace along the light-rail corridor and generally ensuring that long-term civic and national capital interests are aligned.

Preferred Route Conceptual Drawings

Skead Street

Looking east along Skead Street, the LRT is to the left, running behind a 2-3 metre berm. The LRT is partially depressed, with the tracks 1-2 metres below the level of the road, which will mean that only the top of the train is visible as it passes by.

Looking east along Skead Street, the LRT is to the left, running behind a 2-3 metre berm. The LRT is partially depressed, with the tracks 1-2 metres below the level of the road, which will mean that only the top of the train is visible as it passes by.

The power poles for the trains are painted dark brown to blend in with the tree trunks behind them.

Along the edge of the street is a fence separating the LRT corridor from the roadway. The fence is located behind a raised landscaped bed running along the road's edge. As the landscaping matures the view of the berm and the top of the train will become more and more obscured.

Cleary Station View 1

The new station entry building is located on the north side of Richmond Road just east of Cleary Avenue. The landscaped plaza provides an inviting entry to the station. The angled roof and glass façade draws riders into the station, while the station plinth in front provides clear identity to the station.

The new station entry building is located on the north side of Richmond Road just east of Cleary Avenue. The landscaped plaza provides an inviting entry to the station. The angled roof and glass façade draws riders into the station, while the station plinth in front provides clear identity to the station.

At night the light from inside the station will provide a gentle glow on the adjacent plaza as it reflects off the north wall and the sloped roof, reducing the need for additional exterior lighting.

Cleary Station View 2

View looking southwest across the southern portion of the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway. The top of the LRT train can be seen to the left, in the new station. The recently build Charlsefort building on Richmond Road at Cleary Avenue is visible in the distance as is the First Unitarian Church and spire (to the right).

View looking southwest across the southern portion of the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway. The top of the LRT train can be seen to the left, in the new station. The recently built Charlesfort building on Richmond Road at Cleary Avenue is visible in the distance as is the First Unitarian Church and spire (to the right).

Landscape planting along the edge of the station will soften the view and as the plantings mature the station will blend into the greenery.

Cleary Station View 3

The panoramic view is looking down on the new station entrance at Cleary Avenue. Richmond Road and the Byron Linear Park are visible on the right side, and the Ottawa River and the Parkway are visible on the left.

The panoramic view is looking down on the new station entrance at Cleary Avenue. Richmond Road and the Byron Linear Park are visible on the right side, and the Ottawa River and the Parkway are visible on the left.

The station's entry plaza provides a north-south link into the Parkway, and could be extended under the travel lanes to connect to the multi-use pathway on the river's edge.

Cleary Station View 4

This view is taken from the River's edge looking southwest. The new Charlesfort building at Richmond Road and Cleary Avenue is visible in the distance. The new station is in front of the building and to the left. Even in this view it is hard to see, and it will become less visible as the landscaping matures.

This view is taken from the River's edge looking southwest. The new Charlesfort building at Richmond Road and Cleary Avenue is visible in the distance. The new station is in front of the building and to the left. Even in this view it is hard to see, and it will become less visible as the landscaping matures.

New Orchard Station - View 1

Entrance building for New Orchard Station is located in the Byron Linear Park, which will provide access from both Richmond road and Byron Avenue.

Entrance building for New Orchard Station is located in the Byron Linear Park, which will provide access from both Richmond Road and Byron Avenue.

Pedestrians will cross at the traffic signal in the foreground to access the plaza in front of the station. 

To the west, beyond the station, the park has been reinstated over top of the LRT tunnel. Note how little impact there is in the park west of the station.

New Orchard Station - View 2

View 2 looking east from Byron

View 2 looking East from Byron

The entrance to New Orchard Station is located in the Byron Linear Park. In this view, looking east, the station building can be seen with direct access from both Byron Avenue and Richmond Road.

The roof and glass façade will provide ambient light to the north at night, while shielding the residential area to the south.

Station Interior

The inside of the station will provide an airy and light feel, with a double height space over the tracks and platforms to the east of the actual entry area. We can see this entry area mezzanine in the background, spanning over both tracks and connecting to the stairs and escalators connecting to the platforms.

The inside of the station will provide an airy and light feel, with a double height space over the tracks and platforms to the east of the actual entry area. We can see this entry area mezzanine in the background, spanning over both tracks and connecting to the stairs and escalators connecting to the platforms.

The elevators are shown with wooden columns or posts surrounding them, providing an excellent visual clue to their location, and effectively breaking up the space.

Note the sloped roof, which will allow some light to spill out onto the adjacent street-level plaza and the skylights designed to allow in natural daylight. 

LRT Tunnel under Richmond Road

The east-facing cross-section illustrates an underground tunnel running under Richmond Road.  The concrete box is big enough for the two tracks, and the power wires are fastened to the top of the box. The structure is deep enough to allow local utilities to run over the top.

The east-facing cross-section illustrates an underground tunnel running under Richmond Road. The concrete box is big enough for the two tracks, and the power wires are fastened to the top of the box. The structure is deep enough to allow local utilities to run over the top. The Byron Linear Park, depicted immediately to the right in this cross-section, remains protected.

Other Routes Considered

Richmond Underground North (Brown Line)

Richmond Underground North (Brown Line)

[ PDF 4.96 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west to Dominion Station, a distance of 2.5 km. Heading west from an expanded Dominion Station, the line would run in a shallow trench (one to two metres below the existing ground level) on the former CPR rail line south of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and north of Rochester Field and continue west parallel to Skead Street. The line would continue west on the rail bed in a shallow trench south of the Parkway, gradually deepening into an open air Station at Cleary Avenue. Dominion Station to the Cleary Station is a distance of 1.2 kilometres.

The line would then enter a portal and turn slightly south where it would continue west under Richmond Road in a tunnel in the City’s right of way to just west of Woodroffe Avenue, a distance of 830 metres.

At approximately Ancaster Avenue, 250 metres west of Woodroffe, the tunnel would turn north, emerge from a portal and run at grade through an open space area to an open air station off the southern edge of the Parkway just west of New Orchard Avenue, a distance of 260 metres from Richmond Road. The line would then continue for 1.3 km west on edge of the Parkway as it turns south and makes its way at grade to an open air station at Lincoln Fields.

South of Lincoln Fields the line will continue for 2.7 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline.  Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed.

Richmond via Rochester (Yellow Line)

Richmond via Rochester (Yellow Line)

[ PDF 4.9 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west to Dominion Station, a distance of 2.5 kilometres. Heading west from an expanded Dominion Station, the line would run 150 metres in a shallow trench (one to two metres below the existing ground level) on the former CPR rail line to Rochester Field. Here, the line would enter into a portal and travel 730 metres southwest under the field and Richmond Road where it would veer westerly and come back to grade on the Byron Linear Park.

From there, the line would travel 700 metres to an open air station near Cleary Avenue. From there, the line would continue 630 metres on the linear park to an underpass at Woodroffe, 530 more metres on the linear park to an open air stadium near Orchard Park, and 110 more metres to a portal near Richardson Avenue. It would then go back underground for 450 metres while turning slightly south and emerging from a portal in the Pinecrest Creek Corridor, south of Richmond Road and east of the Parkway. The line will then run 460 metres southwest to Lincoln Fields.

South of Lincoln Fields, the line will continue for 2.7 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline. Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed.

Parkway (Magenta Line)

Parkway (Magenta Line)

[ PDF 4.81 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west to Dominion Station, a distance of 2.5 km.

Heading west from an expanded Dominion Station, the line would largely run on the current two-lane road bed of the eastbound Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway for 1.3 kilometres to an open air station in the vicinity of Cleary Avenue. From there, the line would continue 1.2 kilometres to an open air station near New Orchard Avenue.

The line would follow the road alignment south through the Pinecrest Creek area to an open air station at Lincoln Fields for a 1.4 km distance.

South of Lincoln Fields, the line will continue for 2.7 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline. Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed. 

Richmond via Churchill (Blue Line)

Richmond via Churchill (Blue Line)

[ PDF 11.91 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west through Westboro Station, a distance of 1.8. Just before Churchill Avenue, the line would enter a portal and turn sharply south under Churchill Avenue. The line would travel 540 metres under Richmond Road before taking a sharp right turn under Byron Avenue and travel west for 100 metres to an underground station. The line would continue west underground for 710 metres before emerging at grade on the Byron Linear Park east of Broadview Avenue.

From there, the line would travel one kilometre to an open air station near Cleary Avenue. From there, the line would continue 670 metres on the linear park to an underpass at Woodroffe Avenue, 510 more metres on the linear park to an open air station near New Orchard Ave, and 110 more metres to a portal near Richardson Avenue. It would then go back underground for 450 metres while turning slightly south and emerging from a portal in the Pinecrest Creek Corridor, south of Richmond Road and east of the Parkway. The line will then run 460 metres southwest to an open air station at Lincoln Fields.

South of Lincoln Fields, the line will continue for 2.7 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline.  Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed.

CPR - Richmond (Red Line)

CPR - Richmond (Red Line)

[ PDF 4.96 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west to Dominion Station, a distance of 2.5 kilometres. Heading west from an expanded Dominion Station, the line would run in a shallow trench (one to two metres below the existing ground level) on the former CPR rail line south of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and north of Rochester Field and continue west parallel to Skead Street. The line would continue west on the rail bed in a shallow trench south of the Parkway for a distance of 1.3 kilometres.

The line would then enter a portal and turn slightly south where it would continue west under Richmond Road in a tunnel in the City’s right of way to an underground station in the vicinity of Clearly Avenue. From there, the tunnel would continue west to Woodroffe Avenue, a distance of 610 metres.

Just after crossing under Woodroffe Avenue the line would return to the surface on the Byron Linear Park for 490 metres to an open air station near New Orchard Avenue. From there, the line will continue west on the linear park for 140 metres to Richardson Avenue where it would go back underground for 420 metres while turning slightly south and emerging from a portal in the Pinecrest Creek Corridor, south of Richmond Road and east of the Parkway. The line will then run 460 metres southwest to Lincoln Fields.

South of Lincoln Fields, the line will continue for 2.6 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline.  Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed.

Carling O-Train

Carling O-Train

[ PDF 2.4 MB ]

This option would connect to the Confederation Line near Bayview Station. Heading north, it would see the current O-Train line from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue (1.8 kilometres) converted to dual-track electric light rail and see a station constructed at Gladstone Avenue.

At Carling, the line would have to turn hard right (west) on a fly over then immediately enter into a tunnel for 0.8 kilometres to avoid conflict with several intersections before popping up at grade near the Civic Hospital for 220 metres and at-grade station near Parkdale Avenue. Two-hundred-and-twenty metres further west, the line would go underground again under the intersections at Holland Avenue and Island Park Drive before resurfacing and mounting an elevated platform near Merivale Avenue.

This elevated section would continue 900 metres over Highway 417 to an elevated station at Kirkwood Avenue. The elevation would continue 1.5 kilometres to an elevated station at Maitland Avenue before dropping down to grade for 300 metres. Just before the Carlingwood Mall, the line would elevate for 900 metres including a Woodroffe Station, and then drop down to grade for 200 metres.

Near Richardson Avenue, the line would elevate again for 380 metres to a station near the current Lincoln Fields Bus Rapid Transit station, make a hard left (south) turn, then return to grade on the existing Southwest Transitway. South of this, the line will continue for 2.6 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline. Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT.

Preferred Route

Richmond Underground (Green Line)

[ PDF 4.99 MB ]

This option would see the existing Bus Rapid Transit Transitway converted to dual-track electrified light rail from Tunney’s Pasture (where it would connect with the Confederation Line) west to Dominion Station, a distance of 2.5 kilometres. Heading west from an expanded Dominion Station, the line would run in a shallow trench (one to two metres below the existing ground level) on the former CPR rail line south of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and north of Rochester Field and continue west parallel to Skead Street. The line would continue west on the rail bed in a shallow trench south of the Parkway, gradually deepening into an open air Station at Cleary Avenue. Dominion Station to the Cleary Station is a distance of 1.2 kilometres.

The line would then enter a portal and turn slightly south where it would continue west under Richmond Road in a tunnel in the City’s right of way to just west of Woodroffe Avenue, a distance of 900 metres. Here, the tunnel will take a slight jog south underneath the Byron Linear Park where an open air station in an open trench will be located in the vicinity of New Orchard Avenue, about 480 metres west of Woodroffe. From there, the line will continue west under the linear park, moving back under Richmond Road, then turning slightly south before emerging from a portal in the Pinecrest Creek Corridor, south of Richmond Road and east of the Parkway, 580 metres west of the New Orchard station. The line will then run 460 metres southwest to Lincoln Fields.

South of Lincoln Fields, the line will continue for 2.7 kilometres generally following the existing Southwest Transitway to Baseline. Iris Station will be modified to suit LRT, and the Queensway Station will be closed.

Preferred western LRT route protects Byron Linear Park and parkway

The preferred proposed route for the western extension of Ottawa’s light-rail service has been identified by the City of Ottawa after hearing community concerns over the possible loss of greenspace and disruption of west-end neighbourhoods.

“The Richmond Underground proposal would protect the Byron Linear Park and keep LRT off the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, while giving neighbourhoods easy access to the Confederation Line,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We’ve listened to residents’ concerns and examined every alternative to find a viable, affordable route to take the Confederation Line to the west as we plan the second phase of our world-class light rail transit line.”

In June of 2012, City Council directed that further work be done on the 15 possible corridors that could extend light-rail service beyond the limits of Confederation Line, from Tunney’s Pasture to Baseline Station.

After thoroughly reviewing all options, including two additional possible route solutions that were derived from an independent peer review, the City has identified a preferred route: the Richmond Underground. This route protects the Byron Linear Park by going under Richmond Road, preserves residents’ access to the parkland and pathways along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and the Ottawa River shoreline and will improve and enhance both network and local transit service with the addition of two new transit stations at Cleary and Woodroffe.

As part of this review, all possible Carling Avenue corridors have been ruled out as impractical, inconvenient for commuters and too costly. In total, the City has evaluated 18 possible corridors to extend light rail train service to the west.

“This is innovative transportation planning that responds to community concerns by keeping park space and avoiding the disruption of private property to the greatest extent possible,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Transportation Committee. “I’m pleased that our planners have been creative in coming up with good alternatives for the public and our Council to consider and I look forward to their feedback.”

In response to Council direction, staff worked with the NCC to refine the evaluation criteria for the possible routes such that it gave careful consideration to interests and long-term planning objectives of both the City and the Commission to ensure factors such as the impact on cultural landscapes and symbolic character of the Capital, walking and cycling access and connectivity, and the need to mitigate the effect of City infrastructure on federal lands.

In addition, the work done since June 2012 included an independent peer review of the Parkway, the northern corridors, and Carling options, performed by transportation experts Capital Transit Partners (CTP). 

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, a Public Open House on the western corridor alignment study is being held at Ottawa City Hall, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

After receiving public and stakeholder feedback, a report with the final recommended route will go to Transportation Committee on June 5, then rise to City Council.

The approved corridor will be included in the current update of the City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP).