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Open House #3 - June 17, 2013

Western Light Rail project update

Summary: Video presents an update of the design changes completed since the April 2013 release of the preferred western light-rail route.

Welcome to a short video update on the project to extend light rail transit west from Bayview to Baseline Station. This will be part of the second phase of the Confederation Line. Phase one is now under construction.   Once operational, Ottawa’s new light rail system will deliver the capacity needs for generations to come while significantly improving reliability and performance by tunnelling under the downtown core —freeing transit service from the 14 intersection crossings that currently can add 15 minutes or more to commutes through the core.       

We began studying the western LRT route in 2009. Last year, City staff narrowed a long list of potential routes to the four corridors that scored highest in a comprehensive evaluation. Each route was evaluated for smart growth, safety, ridership, mobility, community compatibility, the protection of historical, cultural and archaeological resources, and, or course, value for money.

Several rounds of community consultation then delivered some clear messages. First, the Byron Linear Park must be protected as a key outdoor space. We heard that transit through the Byron Linear Park would change the character of the neighbourhood, split the community, and effectively eliminate the park. Second, we heard that residents did not want to see LRT on the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. People backing onto the Parkway needed to know that their ability to quietly enjoy their homes, and the area’s green space, was safeguarded. Any plan should encourage – not restrict – access to the waterfront and nearby pathways.

Since the last Open House on April 25th, the City has taken a closer look at what more can be done to meet community concerns. In particular, City staff further refined the Richmond Underground proposal to place all sections near homes under the surface. The result is a route that protects these public spaces while delivering high quality, reliable transit service through the city.

So, let’s review our best-rated route and describe how it has been improved.

Starting at Tunney’s Pasture, where phase one of the Confederation Line ends, the proposed route uses the existing Transitway trench running parallel to Scott Street to connect Tunney’s Pasture, through Westboro Station to Dominion Station. With electric light rail vehicles producing less noise than buses, this well-accepted section of the Transitway will become even quieter.

The route then travels about half a kilometre, along the edge of Rochester Field, before entering a tunnel. Between Dominion Station and this new tunnel section the train will run in a shallow trench that will reduce noise. It will be fenced off for safety and the overhead wires and supports along this short stretch will be treated to blend into the surrounding landscape.

A pronounced depression in this area west from Rochester field makes it possible to bury the route along this stretch. And by levelling the ground between residential areas and the waterfront, this area will be as easy to access as it is today. With light rail vehicles underground before passing homes, there will be no additional visual or noise intrusion for those living nearby.

The short length of this shallow tunnel also means that it can be ventilated naturally by placing openings on the northern side facing the roadway. The proposed design of these openings reflects the form of the existing bridges and pathway structures along the Parkway. Burying this section of the LRT route will also ensure continued unimpeded access to the multi-use pathways along this corridor.  

At Cleary, a new open-air station will provide fast and convenient rapid transit service for the McKellar Park community. With no current access to the rapid transit line between Dominion and Lincoln Fields, the Richmond Underground route will better integrate transit within the area while at the same time enhancing cycling and pedestrian connectivity, including a new pedestrian underpass beneath the parkway lanes, and reducing the number of buses running along nearby streets.     

After Cleary, the route passes underneath Richmond Road and travels to an open-air station at New Orchard. This new station and its approaches will be the only impact on the Byron Linear Park.

Returning underneath Richmond Road after New Orchard, the route emerges from the tunnel in the Pinecrest Creek Corridor, south of Richmond Road and east of the Parkway. The route then runs another half a kilometre southwest before it arrives at the redesigned Lincoln Fields Station.

After Lincoln Fields, the route follows the existing Southwest Transitway for 2.7 kilometres, stopping at a redesigned Iris Station before continuing to its final stop at Baseline Station. This completes what will form a 22-kilometre light rail transit link running from Baseline to Blair Road. Ottawa will be truly connected.

Before finishing our tour, let’s take a look at the modern light rail vehicles that will run along this route. These are not VIA passenger trains or heavy subway trains. Rather the Alstom Citadis is a state-of-the-art electric light rail vehicle that is among the quietest in the world today. They are seen in European cities pulling up alongside sidewalk patios. They will run without the need for bells and horns. They are a quiet, elegant, clean solution for our city. 

But it is not only the operation of light rail that will be quiet. The construction of the Confederation Line and its extensions will also be carried out to the highest noise and vibration standards.

Once complete, the Richmond Underground will remove approximately 440,000 OC Transpo bus trips from the Parkway every year, and dramatically reducing noise, smog and pollution in the process. As a result we will be able to enjoy this beautiful green space more than ever.

Thank you very much for taking the time to be part of this important city-building process. We’d like to hear from you. Your feedback will continue to be important as this exciting project progresses.

Richmond Underground: Dominion to New Orchard

Summary: Information on the preferred corridor, including mitigation measures completed since the identification of Richmond Underground (R12) as the City's preferred route between Tunney's Pasture and Baseline Station. This includes design of Dominion Station, Cleary Station and New Orchard Station, access points to the Ottawa River, engineering changes in response to community concerns about safety and greenspace, current condition of the vegetation as well as vegetation plans for the corridor.

Richmond Underground: Lincoln Fields to Baseline

Summary: Information on the preferred corridor between Lincoln Fields and Baseline stations, including the Pinecrest creek corridor, pathway connectivity and Iris Street and Station, taking into account transportation and natural environment concerns.

OC Transpo operation and integration

Summary: How the train system will be operated by OC Transpo and integrated with the bus system, including transfers, passenger drop-offs, frequency of service and passenger volumes.

The Study

Summary: Rationale and timeline for the Western Light Rail Transit Corridor study and details of corridors considered, including Carling Avenue, the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway, Holland and Rochester Field.

Costs, affordability and property values

Summary: The costs of the proposed service from Tunney's Pasture Station to Baseline Station, the City's overall financial strategy for transit and the anticipated effect of the LRT on property values.

White Paper - Funding Potential from Carling Ave LRT

Light rail and land development

Summary: The land-development implications of light rail on neighbourhoods along the western corridor and in the immediate areas around rail stations. How Community Design Plans and Transit-Oriented Development plans will  guide development along the entire rail system.

Next Steps

Richmond Underground Borehole Testing

This is to inform you that borehole testing along the WLRT preferred corridor will start this week.

As approved by Council on July 17, 2013, the preferred WLRTC alignment, the Richmond Underground, identifies partially or a fully-buried alignment from Dominion Station to Cleary Station. Subsurface conditions must be studied in order to understand the impacts on both construction and cost.

Borehole testing is required to more fully assess the soil conditions along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway from the current Dominion Station to the proposed Cleary Station. These tests will provide information on the soil condition in this area where significant infill took place (to allow for the implementation of the Parkway and associated green spaces) and to determine the height of the water table along the corridor.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is aware of the testing and has provided their approval to the City's contractors to access the Parkway lands. It is anticipated that approximately five boreholes will be required at areas along the Parkway corridor. The locations of the boreholes will have little or no impact on the day to day use of the Parkway and its lands.

It is anticipated that the work will take three to four weeks to complete and all results will be included in the final Environmental Project Report scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2014. Further testing will likely be required as part of the detail design stage.

The study is being undertaken in accordance with the transit project assessment process as prescribed in Ontario Regulation 231/08, Transit Projects. The Project Environmental Assessment phase will be initiated after completion of the Project Planning Phase.

Any additional questions or concerns can be directed to the study e-mail address at