The City of Ottawa is undertaking the detailed design and construction of a renewed Elgin Street from Gloucester Street to Isabella Street.
This project also includes the renewal of a portion of Waverley Street from Elgin Street to Metcalfe Street, as well as road resurfacing on Isabella Street from Elgin Street to Queen Elizabeth Driveway.
The existing underground linear infrastructure, some of which dates back to 1874, has reached the end of its useful life-cycle and is in need of reconstruction.
The renewal of this corridor will implement the vision of a Traditional Mainstreet as established in the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan. The City’s policy direction for renewing Traditional Mainstreets is to pursue enhancements to the streetscape design, as well as the transit, pedestrian, and cycling environment. Accordingly, the design will have regard for the existing community context and various planned functions within the project limits.
This project is being guided by the work completed as part of the Elgin Street Functional Design Study which was approved by City of Ottawa Council on May 10, 2017.
Plan of Elgin Street renewal area [ PDF – 423 KB ]
Functional design study approved by Council in May 2017
On May 10, 2017, City Council approved the findings of the Functional Design Study for this project.
During the Functional Design study, the City consulted with community groups, business owners, residents, and the Urban Design Review Panel on the vision and redesign options for these streets. More than 300 residents participated in two public meetings and submitted over 1000 written comments in response to an online feedback form.
The approved redesign provides the foundation upon which this detailed design study is building, including a greater level of detail on:
- Widened sidewalks and street trees
- Integrating family of street furnishings
- A two-lane cross-section with turning lanes at select intersections
- A posted speed limit of 30 km/h on Elgin Street between Lisgar and McLeod streets
- Traffic calming measures and flexible space for on-street parking, patios and seasonal uses
May 2017 Council decision to approve the functional design
1. Direct Transportation Services staff, in consultation with the Ward Councillor, to post the speed limit of Elgin Street (Lisgar Street to McLeod Street) as 30 km/h.
2. That staff work to provide opportunities for additional temporary public parking within close vicinity of Elgin Street during reconstruction;
- The General Manager, Public Works and Environmental Services be delegated the authority, during the time that Elgin Street is under reconstruction, to designate dates and times when parking at City Hall will be free of charge, and
- Staff work with the business owners on Elgin Street during the reconstruction period to co-ordinate advertising of the opportunities for temporary and for free public parking.
3. That the 90 flexible parking spaces be designed for the purpose of parking or patio use only.
4. That applications for the renewal of permits administered through the Right of Way Patio By-law on Elgin Street are subject to the provisions of the new Right of Way Patio By-law except for the requirements regarding the Accessibility Design Standards and pedestrian clearway, which such requirements are deferred until the reconstruction of the pedestrian elements of the project adjacent to the existing patios are complete.
May 2017 Council directions when approving the functional design
- Complete the heavy construction related to the replacement of underground infrastructure in a 12 month period (i.e.: first lift of asphalt and road in service). The second year of construction to have the road in service with parking available, although sections will be affected by rotating construction activities in the corridor. Staff, in consultation with the Elgin Area Business Association, to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of such activities.
- Sidewalks to be maintained in operation throughout the whole project with a temporary surface meeting accessibility requirements, although sections will be affected by rotating construction activities in the corridor.
- During detailed design, staff to work with the Elgin Area Business Association, other local stakeholders and local residents to see whether there are periods of time (e.g., Ottawa Race Weekend, Army Run), when we need to ask the contractor to pause construction in portions of the corridor so that it is not disruptive to the events (even though the corridor will remain closed).
- During construction, staff to work to keep some cross streets open, although sections will be affected by rotating construction activities in the corridor.
- During detailed design, staff will consult with the Elgin Area Business Association, other local stakeholders and residents on the detour plans to mitigate impacts.
- Establish working groups with the Elgin Area Business Association, other local stakeholders (e.g. Elgin Street Parent Council) and residents to ensure open communication through the design and construction period, similar to the approach used for the Bank Street reconstruction project.
- Work with the local Councillor, the Elgin Area Business Association, other local stakeholders and residents on proactive communication with the community on construction activity timing and progress.
- Work with the local Councillor, the Elgin Area Business Association, other local stakeholders and residents on communicating “Open for Business” through City and the Councillor’s social media tools and site signage.
Elgin Street as a complete street
Elgin Street is being renewed as a Complete Street with the following characteristics:
- Wide sidewalks and pedestrian clear zone
- Shorter crosswalks and raised intersections, and narrow travel lanes to enhance the pedestrian experience and slow vehicular traffic
- Opportunities for outdoor patio space
- Flexible street space providing for potential seating or additional walking space
- Ample bicycle parking
- Slower vehicle speeds that are conducive to cycling in a shared lane environment
- Super sharrow markings as a visual cue to encourage single file travelling
- Priority given to transit vehicles to stop in the travel lane
- Additional transit shelters
- Bus stop area amenities
- Queue jumps
- One travel lane in each direction, north of Argyle Street to Lisgar Street
- One or two travel lanes in each direction south of Argyle Street
- Left-turn lanes at key intersections
- Flexible street space providing the choice for on-street parking or outdoor patio space
- Appropriate vehicle capacity to continue to function as an Arterial Road
- Additional street trees, bike racks, waste bins, benches
- Bulb-outs at intersections
- Public realm opportunity areas at intersections
- Opportunities for public art
Elgin Street renewal working group
The Elgin Street renewal project is benefitting from the input of a working group of dedicated volunteers, City of Ottawa staff, and representation from local businesses, schools, churches, and community groups, including but not limited to:
- Accessibility Advisory Committee
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses
- Centretown Citizens Community Association
- Elgin Area Business Association
- Elgin Street Public School
- Elgin Street Public School Parent Council
- Jack Purcell Recreation Association
- Knox Presbyterian Church
- Local churches
- Ottawa Student Transportation Authority
- OC Transpo
The working group has met on six occasions to date, and will continue to be involved in the detailed design process through 2018.
A 30 km/h Street
In accordance with Council direction, Elgin Street will be signed with a 30 km/h speed limit. This is an appropriate speed for shared cycling and creates a safer environment for both pedestrians and cyclists.
Speed reduction measures
Design measures to reduce vehicle operating speeds along Elgin Street will include:
- Narrow travel lanes
- Buses operating in travel lanes
- Four raised intersections
- Reduced curb radii
- Road edge friction (on-street parking, flex spaces, patios, street trees, benches, bike racks, etc.)
Flexible street space
The designs for Elgin Street feature “flexible street space” that can be used interchangeably for parking or outdoor patio use.
Public realm and streetscaping goals
Elgin Street is an important public space within downtown Ottawa. Goals for renewed corridor are to:
- Renew street infrastructure
- Enhance economic vitality
- Encourage social interactions
- Create a memorable experience for visitors
- Add street greening
- Be flexible and maintainable
- Pursue a balance of functionality and aesthetics
- Create an inviting and accessible place for everyone!
The streetscaping strategy for Elgin Street will be reflective of the historic nature of the corridor and it’s location within a Heritage Conservation District, but will also incorporate contemporary elements to ensure a timeless design.
The study team has developed an integrated family of streetscaping elements to be deployed throughout the corridor at key locations. These elements include benches, waste receptacles, pedestrian lighting, bicycle parking, bollards, street tree planters and pavers.
Proposed street furnishings
The proposed pedestrian lighting for Elgin Street will be functional, efficient, able to reduce light spillage, harmonious with the Elgin Street Design Context, respectful of Confederation Boulevard, easy to source and maintain, and cost-effective.
The selected pedestrian streetlight expresses the historic character of Elgin Street in a contemporary fashion. It is appropriate for a Heritage Conservation District, and provides a distinct element that can be adapted into lighted bollards or wall-mounted features.
The City of Ottawa standard ring-and-post bicycle parking is proposed to be used along Elgin Street. These are proven to be successful in Ottawa’s climate, and are easy to maintain.
Benches and waste receptacles
There will be benches and waste receptacles located throughout the corridor at key locations to provide ample seating opportunities, and to maintain the cleanliness of the corridor. The use of black metal fixtures anchors onto the history of black metal railings used at institutions along the street.
Street trees and pedestrian surfaces
A variety of street trees will be planted along Elgin Street to contribute to the urban forest and provide shade and respite from the urban environment. A diversity of hearty, salt-resistant trees will be selected.
Street trees will be planted within structural soil cells where appropriate to promote healthy growth, longevity and increase their likelihood of success within the corridor.
Multiple strategies will be employed for tree planting, including planting in pavement with guards or in planters with integrated seating, dependent on available sidewalk space and the street context.
A district paving strategy is recommended that reflects the varying land use contexts along Elgin Street.
In the downtown and mixed-use areas, gray pavers are proposed as the primary paver for pedestrian and flex-space areas. Red pavers will be used at crosswalks and other entry points into the corridor to accent the primary pavers.
In the south end of the corridor, concrete sidewalks are proposed as the primary pedestrian walkway with a band of accent pavers used between the sidewalk and road edge in some locations.
A new vision for Elgin Street
Waverley Street renewal
The City of Ottawa will be renewing Waverley Street between Elgin Street and Jack Purcell Lane to achieve the following objectives:
- Improve the linkages between Elgin Street and Jack Purcell Park
- Create a new public space for the community
- Increase the greening of the space, and
- Maintain some amount of vehicular mobility/circulation/parking.
The project will also include the renewal of a large, deep municipal sewer running through the Waverley Street right-of-way between Elgin Street and Metcalfe Street. This includes construction activities within the Metcalfe and Waverley street intersection. The construction of this sewer will commence some time following the substantial completion of the Elgin Street renewal project. This construction will result in the temporary disruption to Jack Purcell Park along its northern limit. Temporary measures will be provided to:
- Ensure public safety during construction,
- Maintain as much as the park area available as possible,
- Maintain pedestrian connectivity along the Waverley Street right-of-way between Metcalfe Street and Jack Purcell Lane, and
- Maintain access to the Jack Purcell Community Centre.
The public art selection process for Elgin Street is underway. A call-to-artists was prepared in consultation with community stakeholders, with the objective of selecting an artist by July 2018.
The chosen artist will begin a five month residency in the community, anticipated from August to December, to engage and collaborate with community stakeholders on the inspiration for the public art proposal and potential locations.
The proposed art investment would be informed through community engagement, presented to the public prior to construction, and implemented in coordination with the construction project for completion by spring/summer 2020.
As per City of Ottawa policy, 1% of the estimated capital construction budget is allocated to public art.
Preliminary implementation schedule
The project schedule is as follows:
- Site investigations (soils, field surveys, condition assessments, investigations of existing sewers): Ongoing
- Temporary and localized utility relocations by Bell and Hydro Ottawa: March 2018 to end of year 2018
- Detailed design completion: Fall 2018
- Contractor selection: Fall 2018
- Construction commencement: Early January 2019
- Primary construction season: January to December 2019 (full road closure for all of 2019 to complete underground works and roadway surface)
- Final construction season: Spring 2020 to fall 2020 (partial/periodic road closures or lane reductions, to complete final asphalt lift, landscaping, streetscaping, street lighting, public art installation, and additional required reinstatements)
Bell utility reconstruction
Bell Canada has commenced upgrading their underground infrastructure. This work is required because the existing Bell infrastructure is in need of repair in advance of heavy construction.
Bell’s contractor will need to excavate, remove and rebuild manhole structures at various intersections along Elgin Street. The work will also include the replacement of underground Bell infrastructure.
The proposed work is occurring on Elgin Street between Gloucester Street and Isabella Street, in the following phases:
Phase 1: McLeod Street to Waverley Street – manholes at Frank Street and Gladstone Avenue – possibly Waverley Street (March to May)
Phase 2: Cooper Street to Nepean Street – manholes at Lisgar Street and Nepean Street (May to June)
Phase 3: Gloucester Street – manhole at Gloucester Street, and Isabella Street to McLeod Street – manholes at Argyle Avenue, Isabella Street and McLeod Street (July to September)
Phase 4: Waverley Street and Somerset Street West – manholes at Somerset and possibly Waverley Street (2019)
This phasing and limit of work is subject to change. Each phase of work will result in reductions in travel lanes and on-street parking restrictions that will extend approximately one block in all directions of the construction limits.
Plan of Bell utility reconstruction [ PDF – 967 KB ]
Hydro utility reconstruction
The project will involve the installation of a new overhead pole line by Hydro Ottawa.
The existing wood hydro poles that exist along the west side of Elgin Street within the project limits will be replaced with new concrete hydro poles. The new poles will be in a location further away from adjacent buildings, within the existing westernmost southbound travel lane. This location will match the proposed new street design and will have the effect of increasing the clear zone of the project’s widened sidewalks.
Concrete poles allow for fewer poles to be used throughout the corridor and will use self-supporting foundations to reduce the use of anchoring guy wires wherever possible.
The timing and method of installation of the new concrete hydro pole line and the “cut over” of new electrical conductors and overhead utilities, may be in fall 2018 but it has not yet been determined. A traffic management plan will be developed during prior to these activities and advance public notice will be provided by the City.
Of note, the Elgin Street renewal working group participated in a discussion in fall 2017 about the possibility of undergrounding of the existing overhead hydro service. The discussion was informed by the City of Ottawa hydro undergrounding policy that was enacted in 2011, which states that, “the undergrounding of overhead wires on City right-of-ways be undertaken only when the full cost of burial is paid for by the requesting party …”.
A requesting party did not emerge in fall 2017 and the undergrounding of hydro service is not being pursued.
Construction during 2019
Full road closure for vehicles with some side street crossings available.
In accordance with the May 2017 Council direction, a full road closure for vehicles is required to expedite construction in a timely manner. This road closure will occur from January 2019 to the end of December 2019 from Laurier Avenue to Catherine Street. During this closure pedestrian access along Elgin Street will remain open at all times.
Accessible crossings will be provided across Elgin Street to provide for connectivity with the surrounding community for all corridor users of all modes. These crossings will be spaced equitably and ensure that connections to businesses, transit services and loading areas are maintained.
Crossings will be located at:
- Gloucester Street and Nepean Street (providing access to the City Hall Parking Garage)
- Somerset Street
- Lewis Street (providing access to Jack Purcell Lane)
- Gladstone Avenue
- McLeod Avenue
- Catherine Street
Plan of proposed 2019 street crossings [ PDF – 975 KB ]
General traffic detours
With the Elgin Street closures at Laurier Avenue and Catherine Street, an area-wide detour route will be required. The recommended and signed general detour route considers:
- Arterial focus: Direct through-travel to designated arterial roads
- Cut-through: Minimize propensity for cut through traffic on local streets
- Directness: Maintain general direction of travel and minimize detours
- Efficiency: Minimize delay for all modes
- Proximity: Maximize proximity to Elgin Street corridor
- Affordability: Minimize need to modify intersections
Plan of general traffic detours [ PDF – 761 KB ]
OC Transpo bus transit detours
The road closure requires consideration of transit related detours, specifically of OC Transpo routes 5, 14, 101, and 103.
The recommended transit detours meet key objectives of a successful transit detour:
- Maintain route consistency as best as possible
- Service the Elgin Street corridor
- Minimize travel time
- Maximize service reliability
- Maximize effective coverage within 400 metre walking distance
- Combines crossings of Elgin Street with other modes
- Minimize the need for transfers
O’Connor and Metcalfe streets will play an important role for both Routes 5 and 14 during construction, as well Cartier Street.
Route 14 will use the designated crossing of Elgin Street at Gladstone Avenue and McLeod Street, while Route 5 will make use of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (subject to NCC approval) and either Argyle Avenue or McLeod Street to access Cartier Street.
Associated bus stop locations are being reviewed at this time.
OC Transpo bus transit detours [ PDF – 761 KB ]
Pedestrian and cyclist mobility
Accessible pedestrian travel routes along Elgin Street will remain open at all times during the full road closure. Access will be provided to the businesses and land uses on both sides of the road. The location of the pedestrian travel routes may shift from along the building face to the center of the street depending on the work being undertaken by the contractor.
Pedestrian travel routes will be fully accessible and winter maintained.
Cyclists travelling to Elgin Street will be required to dismount their bicycles and walk once they enter the corridor. Bike parking will be provided on side streets during construction. The proposed crossings of Elgin Street will be available to cyclists and will maintain connections to nearby major cycling routes, such as the Corkstown Footbridge, the O’Connor Street Bikeway, and pathways along Queen Elizabeth Driveway.
Managing local street impacts
The City’s toolbox to manage traffic on local streets during construction includes:
- General traffic monitoring,
- Regulatory signs,
- Electronic speed survey signs, and
- Temporary physical modifications.
The City recognizes that during the full road closure of Elgin Street in 2019 temporary detours for buses may represent a change in the community and that residents may have concerns. The City will be making its best efforts to ensure that this temporary bus route is as successful as possible, including the following:
- Appropriate signage to confirm that this detour is for buses only and not a general traffic detour route,
- OC Transpo bus drivers will provide operators with an advisory reminding them of the local residential street context,
- Existing on-street parking permissions and regulations that conflict with bus turning maneuvers at intersections and bus stops will be amended as needed, and
- Residents can reach OC Transpo at 613-741-4390.
The City will continually review all measures put in place during construction to ensure that the detour is working effectively.
Accessibility in the design
The renewed Elgin Street corridor has been designed to meet the City of Accessibility Design Standards, as well as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There are no exceptions to these accessibility standards being sought for this project.
The unencumbered path of travel for pedestrians, known as the pedestrian clearway, is targeted to be a minimum of 2 metres throughout the corridor, and wider wherever possible.
Reconstructed intersections will incorporate appropriate waiting areas to cross, accessible pedestrian signals, and Tactile Walking Surface Indicators.
The flex-space parking will provide a smooth-graded transition to the sidewalk/pedestrian area for on-street parking users. In these areas, the curb will have a mountable rolled edge, instead of a vertical barrier face. Seating areas throughout the corridor will provide rest areas at strategic locations.
Accessibility during construction
The contractor undertaking the construction shall prepare a Construction Site Pedestrian Control Plan which will ensure the provision of a safe and accessible path of travel for all pedestrians through and/or around the construction site. The City will monitor accessibility regularly throughout construction.
Pedestrian travel routes along Elgin Street during construction will be fully accessible and winter maintained.
The designated crossing locations of the corridor will also accommodate users of all abilities, as well as Para Transpo vehicles.
Managing construction disruption
The construction project activities will have the potential to impact institutions, businesses and residents along the corridor and in the adjacent community. Opportunities to mitigate construction related impacts will be “built into” the design. The project will:
- Minimize the time and extent of the construction project's potential negative effects on adjacent businesses, landowners, the surrounding community, and the environment as best possible,
- Place a priority on the need to retain a basic level of transportation accessibility to the street fronting land uses including pedestrian accessibility to building fronts and loading opportunities on side streets,
- Provide and promote free parking at City Hall on evenings and weekends during construction,
- Provide an acceptable level of service for emergency service vehicles,
- Consider a range of environmental mitigation tools such as erosion and sediment control plans, contaminated materials management plans, noise and vibration monitoring, and geotechnical investigations,
- Construction hours of work are typically 7 am to 6 pm weekdays, however the construction plans for Elgin Street are not yet confirmed. Provisions for weekend and evening work may be contemplated.
Working together through construction
The City will be committed to working collaboratively and continuously with affected parties during the construction period. The City will:
- Notify residents of ongoing and upcoming work via the Elgin Street renewal e-newsletter,
- Retain a “Communications Liaison” staff member that will assist in the two-way relay of information in a timely manner,
- Keep lines of communication open between the City, its contractor, area institutions, businesses and community associations,
- Make best efforts to schedule construction activities that work around special events and promotions,
- Actively involve adjacent institutions, businesses, landowners, and residents in finding solutions to manage the project's construction period disruption, and
- Use Block Captains to relay information between the City/contractor and all land owners and businesses along the street.
Following the Public Open House, feedback will be reviewed along with input received from area businesses, property owners, community members and city-wide stakeholders, in finalizing elements of the Elgin Street renewal design project.