Village Collector and Rural Arterial/Collector Road Design

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1.0 Introduction

Walters Road, Ottawa

The City of Ottawa continues to show leadership in the pursuit of sustainable urban transportation. Its award-winning Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines (2000) has been widely referenced in urban transportation research across Canada. Those guidelines were pioneering in their recognition that Arterial Roads play a pivotal role in shaping the public space and landscape character of a City, while providing mobility choices, accessibility, and space for vital City services and utilities. The document had a strong influence on the ensuing City of Ottawa Official Plan (2003). The guidelines remain highly relevant today and continue to guide the construction and retrofit of the City’s Arterial Road network.

As a follow-on project, the City has now prepared these guidelines which address the following roads as classified in the Official Plan:

  1. Major Collector and Collector Roads in the Urban Area and Villages; and,
  2. Arterial Roads and Collector Roads in the Rural Area.

Major Collector and Collector Roads in the Urban Area, Rural Area, and Villages are designated in the Official Plan (Annex 1, Section 1.0) to:

  1. Connect communities and distribute traffic between the arterial system and the local road system;
  2. Act as shorter links (than Arterial Roads);
  3. Provide direct access to adjacent properties where such access will not introduce traffic safety or capacity concerns;
  4. Accommodate the safe and efficient operation of transit services;
  5. Be the principal streets in urban and Village neighbourhoods;
  6. Be used by local residents, delivery and commercial vehicles, transit and school buses, cyclists, and pedestrians;
  7. Operate with reduced speed and volume of traffic (than Arterial Roads);
  8. Be more accommodating (than Arterial Roads) for cyclists and pedestrians; and,
  9. Include tree plantings, bus stops, community mailboxes and other streetscape features to create roadways that are integrated with their neighbourhood.

Designated “Major” Collectors act as a connection between Arterial Road and Collector Roads. Higher traffic volumes and a greater mix of vehicle types and sizes are to be accommodated than compared to Collector Roads. There are no Major Collectors designated in the Rural Area or Villages.

Aquaview Drive, Ottawa

Arterial Roads are the major roads of the City designated to carry large volumes of traffic over the longest distances. This system provides links to provincial and inter-provincial roads. Vehicular access to adjacent properties should be controlled to reduce turning movements and potential conflicts. Other than these principles, the Official Plan’s Road Classification system provides little guidance on the planned characteristics of Arterial Roads in the Rural Area.

It is important to note that the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines addressed Arterial Roads in the Urban Area and those with a “mainstreet” function in the Villages. The City of Ottawa has also completed urban design guidelines for Arterial Mainstreets and Traditional Mainstreets through its Ottawa by Design program. No further design guidance for mainstreets in Villages is provided in this document.

This document will also be highly valued in guiding the design of these important Roads throughout its vast 2,700+ square kilometres of urban, village and rural communities.

Urban Road Area Network

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Central Area Network

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Rural Road Network

2.0 Utility & Role of the Guidelines

As with the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines, these guidelines are to be used by anyone involved in the planning and design of new collector and rural Arterial Roads, or their reconstruction. This includes municipal staff and elected officials, citizens, community and interest groups, developers, and design professionals in various disciplines. The guidelines are to be used in the following circumstances:

  • The preparation and review of Community Design Plans;
  • The design and review of Plans of Subdivision;
  • The implementation of Zoning By-Laws and Site Plans;
  • The design of Roads to be constructed new, reconstructed or rehabilitated; and,
  • The selection and harmonization of appropriate right-of-way (ROW) protection policies in the City’s next update of its Official Plan.

It is important to note that the guidelines are not intended to be an encyclopedic “how-to” design manual. Their role is simply to provide general design guidance, acknowledging that some of the concepts and demonstrations require detailed design investigations, and may not be achievable in all circumstances. They do not constitute city standards, although they may inform the continual evolution of standards. On this basis, the role of the document is to focus on key design elements and cross-section demonstrations that are specific to the road types in question and that introduce new thoughts and ideas that are important to the Ottawa context and not referenced in other related documents. These other supporting documents include, but are not limited to (listed alphabetically):

  • Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities: An ITE Proposed Recommended Practice (ITE, 2006);
  • Environmental Noise Control Guidelines (City of Ottawa, 2006);
  • Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads (Transportation Association of Canada, 1999);
  • Geometric Design Standards for Ontario Highways (Ontario Ministry of Transportation);
  • Greening Guidelines for Regional Roads (Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, 1992);
  • Ottawa Cycling Plan [Draft] (City of Ottawa, 2005);
  • Pedestrian Plan (City of Ottawa, In-Process 2007);
  • Promoting Sustainable Transportation Through Site Design: An ITE Proposed Recommended Practice (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2004);
  • Postal Delivery Standards Manual (Canada Post, 2004);
  • Right-of-Way Cross Sections for New Residential Roads [Memo] (City of Ottawa, 2007);
  • Right-of-Way Lighting Policy (City of Ottawa, 2007);
  • Rural Pathways Plan (Stantec Consulting Ltd. & StoneStable Consulting, 2006);
  • Street Design Policy Special Streets (City of Ottawa, 2006);
  • Tree Planting Advice (Hydro Ottawa);
  • Urban Design Guidelines for Arterial Mainstreets (City of Ottawa, 2006);
  • Urban Design Guidelines for Greenfield Neighbourhoods [Draft] (City of Ottawa, 2007);
  • Urban Design Guidelines for Traditional Mainstreets (City of Ottawa, 2006); and,
  • Utility Coordination Committee Guidelines and Policies (City of Ottawa, Ongoing).

It is also important to consider the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines as a companion document. Although those guidelines address designated Arterial Roads, which are the major roads of the City, much of the design guidance is relevant to urban Major Collector and Collector Roads and there is no need to reinvent or re-package the information. Where new ideas and other innovations have emerged, these are documented. For specific technical design issues, reference should be made to City of Ottawa Standard Tender Documents, Volumes I and II.

These guidelines are presented in a format that is simple, succinct, user-friendly, broadly accessible, and focused on select matters of concern for these road corridors both today and in the future.

3.0 Study Process & Stakeholder Involvement

Crichton Street, Ottawa

Ogilvie Road, Ottawa

These guidelines have benefited from the input of a Working Group that was formed for the project. This group helped to identify matters of concern that are addressed in the document. Their input was highly appreciated. Participants included representation from:

  • Various City of Ottawa departments;
  • Community Associations;
  • Homebuilders and Land Developers;
  • Other consultants; and,
  • Interest Groups.

The group met during the course of the study and provided input in a round-table setting. Minutes were circulated and follow-on discussions were held. Other matters were introduced through individual submissions and small group meetings. Additional comments were received during a Public Open House in June, 2007, and the draft Guidelines were circulated for broad public review. Adjustments were made to reflect this input.

In addition to the Working Group input, the study consultants and City staff carried out a best practices scan. This included a review of related documents from several agencies and jurisdictions. As is often the case, some of the best practices originated in Ottawa and have been included in the guidelines.

6.0 Rural Conditions

The design of the City’s Collector and Arterial Roads in the Rural Area should respond to the unique land use context and rural drainage systems (roadside ditches) that differentiate their cross-sections. Whereas the design of urban roads is more influenced by adjacent land uses, buildings, pedestrian activity, and public space functions, the design focus on roads located in the Rural Area is on integration with the landscape and natural processes.

  1. Minimize the displacement of rural lands by keeping the required ROW as narrow as possible, working within designated ROW widths wherever feasible. Achieve this efficiency by reducing the number of lanes and reducing lane widths wherever feasible, avoiding wide medians where safe to do so, while maintaining safe road cross-sections and appropriate roadside drainage.
  2. For roads that travel along the boundary of the designated Urban Area and the Rural Area, provide an urban cross-section on the designated Urban side of the road and provide a rural cross-section along the Rural side. Protect ROWs accordingly for those segments.
  3. Use open grassy swales and ditches (rather than road edge curbs, catch basins and storm water pipes) or other creative options for roadside drainage in the Rural Area, to better reflect the rural setting, accept adjacent farmland drainage, control the rate of discharge, encourage groundwater infiltration, and manage surface water quality. Where the drainage swale may become too deep and/or wide to resolve grades, consider a combination of grassy swale and perforated pipe system under the swale. Use these solutions for Village collectors that are intended to have a rural type (non-curb) cross-section and where sidewalks need to fit within the available ROW.
  4. Along roadside ditches, use gentle side slopes, preferably 4:1 and not steeper than 3:1, to accommodate grass, plantings, and maintenance activities and to address road safety (vehicle recovery and roll-over avoidance). Where steeper ditch slopes are required in constrained areas, plant low maintenance vegetation.
  5. Consider paving a portion (0.5m up to 1.5m) of road shoulders when rehabilitating, resurfacing, or constructing new rural arterials and collectors. Do this to improve traffic safety by providing additional recovery area, minimizing roll-over risk, and reducing risk of collision with fixed objects, particularly along higher speed roads. Take advantage of the added value for farm vehicle movement and cycling, walking, jogging, running along the road edge. Decisions regarding shoulder paving should be made on a case by case basis while having regard to the road designation in the Official Plan and the Cycling Plan and Pedestrian Plan, the cost to implement, as well as future Road Design Guidelines that may provide further guidance including potential life cycle cost benefits.
  6. Where paved shoulders are to be provided, construct “rumble strips” on a pilot project basis to test their road safety advantages and operational requirements, and to evaluate their impact on cyclists. Where paved shoulders are used by cyclists, the width of the rumble strip and a 0.3m clear zone should be in addition to the desired shoulder width.
  7. Provide safe passenger waiting areas at bus stop locations along rural roads by widening the road shoulder, or ideally, by providing hard surface pads that could accommodate a bus shelter.
  8. Provide culverts and lanes to permit farm vehicles to cross the roadway and to access adjacent lands where required, and involve landowners in the choice of location when constructing new roads.
  9. To reduce the required ROW and maintain a rural character, avoid the use of raised curb medians unless needed for road safety. As an alternative, consider the use of grooved rumble strips, separated paint lines, turf swales, and other creative designs that have the affect of separating opposing traffic lanes. When evaluating the need for separation, consider traffic speeds, traffic volumes, traffic mix, number of lanes, left-turn lane locations, and adjacent land uses. At the rural/urban interface, and when there is no reasonable solution to providing raised curb medians, consider the need for piped drainage systems (curb and catch basins) along them.
  10. Where identified in approved plans or studies, locate multi-use pathways in the ROW. Secure a wider ROW and locate the pathway near the ROW limit, separated from the vehicle lanes. Where the roadway forms a boundary between the Rural Area and an Urban Area, consider substituting a City sidewalk with a multi-use pathway along the urban side of the ROW, to consolidate pedestrian/cycling surfaces and to enhance the user experience.
  11. Illuminate roads only where needed for road user safety, to retain the Rural Area’s dark night sky. When evaluating the need, consider: the number of vehicle lanes, traffic volumes, intersection locations, cycling route function, location/proximity of pedestrian crossings or routes, road segment length, and road corridor lighting continuity. Where roadside lighting is required, design systems that reduce the overall ambient glow on the rural landscape, including the use of full cut-off luminaires. Refer to the City’s Right-of-Way lighting Policy (2007)
  12. Where roadside planting is appropriate in the ROW, design it to complement the variable rural character adjacent to the corridor (agricultural fields versus rural residential, etc.). Use species commonly or historically found in the region and plant in rural and naturalized patterns including groupings and uneven spacings. Where roadside planting cannot be accommodated in the ROW, consider locating it outside of the ROW on adjacent lands to reduce the required ROW, to provide an unencumbered growing area, and to reduce potential conflicts with above-grade or below-grade services.
  13. Consolidate utilities and services (buried and overhead) along the ROW limit, on shared-use poles, and along one side of the road whenever possible. This will reduce the visual impact on the Rural Area, provide more unencumbered space for planting, drainage, and will improve road safety.
  14. Overhead utility pole lines are typically located at the ROW edge, close to the property line. However, where the pole line would be located in a ditch or where the pole would be shared with street lighting, the pole line may be placed closer to the traveled road edge.
  15. Locate trees so that they are a minimum of 3m when mature from any overhead lines, to allow canopy growth with minimal pruning. Consider locating light fixtures on utility poles, to minimize poles and provide fewer conflicts with potential tree planting as well as improving road safety.
  16. Avoid impacts on valued natural and cultural heritage features (including federally significant resources) when designing and constructing new rural roads. If such features must be displaced or diminished due to construction activities, they should be replaced or enhanced with features of equal or greater value, either in the ROW or on adjacent lands.
  17. For road segments prone to snow drifting such as along open windswept areas, provide opportunities on adjacent rural lands along the windward side of the road for snow drift management. Use measures such as retaining corn crops, planting hedgerows, or using snow fencing in the most problematic areas. Review the City’s Alternative Snow Fence Program for further guidance.
  18. Coordinate the erection of the City’s tourism wayfinding signs and visitor attraction signs with other regulatory, tourism, and public service signs, and cycle route signs.
  19. Protect wider ROWs in the vicinity of creek and drain crossings, to provide extra space for culvert location and maintenance. Include provisions in the Official Plan to take triangular road widenings as a condition of development approvals.

Improve winter motorist safety by compensating farmers to leave unharvested corn as snow-breaks along problematic windswept road segments.

9.0 Implementation

These guidelines can be immediately implemented in the design of the new road corridors that they address. Various processes and tools exist to assist.

Confirming a Vision

The design process can follow the guidance set out in Section 9.0 of the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines. This includes establishing a “vision” for the road that is well-matched to its planned function, with an understanding of how the road segment fits into the road types defined in Section 7.0 of this document. In all cases, this vision is best clarified through a process involving stakeholders.

When existing individual roads or road segments are being reconstructed, the process of confirming a vision could be as simple as a community meeting. In more elaborate projects, the Environmental Assessment (EA) process may provide a more in-depth process.

Community Design Plans

The vision for a new Collector Road network in developing areas can often be developed through a Community Design Plan (CDP) process. This process provides an excellent planning tool to enable an understanding of the varying functions of the Collector Road network and the community contexts along various segments. Road ROWs can be confirmed at this time. If the network structure is well-planned in the CDP, there should be more certainty in road designs and decisions during the subsequent Plan of Subdivision processes.

Zoning By-Law

It is also important that Zoning By-Law regulations be harmonized with the design of Collector Road corridors. This is particularly important in developing areas where individual residences along Collector Roads may have direct driveway access. In those instances, the outside portion of the ROW (where driveways cross) may be used for driveway parking, and garage setbacks need to be properly calibrated with sidewalk locations. Setbacks from utility trenches, overhead electric lines and pad-mounted transformers must be considered when building setbacks are reduced.

Right-of-Way Protection

The Demonstration Plans provided in Appendix A will provide a basis for reviewing the City of Ottawa Official Plan ROW protection policies. Those policies were for the most part carried over from the Official Plans of Ottawa’s municipalities prior to amalgamation, and harmonization is required. A classification of the affected roads will be done in accordance with the six road types defined in Section 7. The existing ROW width, the historically designated ROW width, and the road function will be assessed. Adjustments to the ROW width to be protected will be recommended for inclusion as an amendment to the Official Plan. For some existing road segments that have an appropriate ROW width to enable reconstruction to new standards, the City will consider removing ROW protection for those segments altogether.

Balancing Competing Interests & Objectives

Given the multiplicity of road functions and the variety of road contexts, there is often a need to balance competing interests in the competition for horizontal and vertical space when designing roads and establishing ROWs to be protected. For example, the “ideal” space and separation requirements for services and utilities often conflict with the desired location of above-ground amenities such as trees, street lights and sidewalks, and vice-versa. If treated in isolation, the road design process would run the risk of resulting in ROWs that are excessive (to provide ideal conditions for all elements), or where elements are not properly spatially-organized. Accordingly, the design guidelines must assist in making design choices that result in the most appropriate balance given the context.

The policy basis described in Section 4 and the suggestions provided in Section 7.4 provide a good starting point for making balanced design choices. When evaluating road design choices, regard should also be had for the relevant Official Guiding Principles and Strategic Directions as well as the road classification objectives outlined in Section 1.0. Life-cycle costs and availability of capital funding will always be highly important considerations.

Regard should also be had for the First Principles set out in the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines. These deal with road corridors as important public spaces, access providers, multi-modal routes, and service and utility routes. How do alternative designs meet all of these criteria? A holistic understanding of these varying road objectives and a constant consideration of trade-offs and innovative solutions is required.

Finally, the City will be informed by these guidelines when preparing and updating its road design manuals, specifications, detailed cross-sections, and in preparing site-specific designs. Those tools will establish municipal standards governing construction, and will be effective in promoting designs for all above-grade and below-grade infrastructure that are compatible with the planning and design guidance provided in this document and other related city documents.

Appendix B

Table 1: Specifications for Right-of-Way, Adjacent Lands, Network and Road Edge Components

Criteria or Point of Reference Key Design References All Types Neighbourhood Collector Community Collector Business Area Collector Rural Arterial Rural Collector Village Collector
ROW Width Range     20 m or less 20 – 26 m 20 – 26 m 26 m 30 m 20 - 26 m 20 - 26 m
Adjacent Lands Components                  
Building Height-to-Width Ratio From building face to building face 1 1:1 to 1:2 1:1 to 1:2 1:1 to 1:3 1:1 to 1:3 - - -
Building Setbacks From building face to ROW limit 1 0 m 0 – 6 m 0 – 6 m 0 – 6 m 0 – 6m+ 0 – 6 m + 0 – 6 m+
Corridor Width   1 20.5 m or less 20– 30 m 20 – 42 m 26 – 36 m 30 – 42 m+ 26 – 36 m+ 26 – 36 m+
Network Components                  
Block Length Distance between intersections   - 50- 100 m 50 – 250 m 150 – 250 m - - -
Number of Lanes Travel Lanes   2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Road Edge Components                  
Boulevard Width Between Curb and Sidewalk   - 0 – 3 m 0 – 3.5 m 0 – 3.5 m - - -
No Sidewalk   - N/A N/A N/A 11.5 m +/- 9.75 m +/- 9.75 m +/-
Light Standard Offset From Traveled Asphalt White Line (No Sidewalk) 2 - - - - 4.0m 1.5-3.0m 1.5-3.0m
From Barrier Curb 2 0.6-1.5m 0.6-1.5m 0.6-2.4m 0.6-2.4m - - -
Tree Offset Tree Centreline, From Curb   0.75 m 0.75 m 0.75-1.5 m 1.5 m - - -
Tree Centreline, From Sidewalk   0.5 m 0.5 m 0.5 m 0.5 m - - -
Ditch Fore-slope   3 3:1 - - - 4:1 4:1 4:1
Ditch Back-Slope   3 3:1 - - - 3:1 3:1 3:1
Ditch Depth   3   - - - 1.5 m 1.5 m 1.5 m
Fence Zone Flat area between ROW limit and Ditch Back-Slope   N/A - - - 0 – 2.0 m 0 –2.0 m 0 – 2.0 m

Notes: Offsets are measured to the centre of the vertical element unless otherwise noted.

Design References:

Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines, City of Ottawa, 2000

Right-of-Way Lighting Policy, City of Ottawa, Draft, 2007

Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads (1999)

Table 2: Specifications for Roadway Components

ROW Component Road Type Key Design References CONSTRAINED URBAN RURAL AREA
Criteria or Point of Reference All Types Neighbourhood Collector Community Collector Business Area Collector Rural Arterial Rural Collector Village Collector
Dedicated Cycling Lane Width Adjacent to curb 2,3 1.2m N/A 1.5m 1.5m 1.5 – 2.0 m 1.5 m N/A
Adjacent to on-street parking lane 2,3 - N/A 1.8 m 1.8 m - - -
Shared Cycling & Vehicle Lane Width Adjacent to curb 2,3 3.5 m 3.5-4.25 m 3.5 – 4.25 m 3.5 - 4.25 m n/a n/a 3.25 m
Adjacent to on-street parking lane 2,3 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.5 m 3.5 m n/a n/a n/a
Vehicle Lane Width Adjacent to curb 3,4,5 3.0 m 3.25-3.5 m 3.25-3.5 m 3.5 m 3.5-3.75 m 3.25-3.5 m 3.5 m
Adjacent to curb, provides for part-time or full-time on-street parking 3,4,5 3.0 m N/A 3.5 m 3.5 m n/a n/a n/a
Adjacent to other travel Lane 1,3,4,5 3.0 m N/A 3.0 m - 3.5 m - -
Adjacent to Median 3,4,5 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0m 3.5 m 3.5 m 3.5 m
Curb Offset Width Additional travel lane width required as a buffer between road edge curb face 4 0.25 m 0-0.25 m 0-0.25 m 0.25m N/A N/A 0-0.25 m
Opposing Lane Offset Width Additional travel lane width required as buffer between opposing vehicle lanes 4 N/A N/A 0.25 m 0.25 m 0.25 m 0.25 m N/A
Vehicle Turning Lane Width Adjacent to Curb or Median 3,4 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0 m 3.0 m -
Other Cases(minimum) 3,4 3.0 m - 3.3 m 3.3 m 3.3 m 3.3 m -
Parking-Only Lane Width Located along curb, full-time vehicle parking, no cycling 3,4 2.2 m 2.25-2.5m 2.5 m 2.5 m n/a n/a n/a
Paved Shoulder Width For Traffic Safety 2,5 1.2-1.5 m - - - 1.5 - 2.0 m 1.5 m 1.5 m
Gravel Rounding Width From edge of asphalt 4 0.5 m - - - 1.0 m 1.0 m 1.0 m
Total Paved Surface Width From curb edge to curb edge or shoulder to shoulder - <11.0 m 9.0 - 11.0 m 2 lane – 11.0 m 4 lane – 13 m 11.0 m 7 m <11.0 m <11.0 m

Notes: Offsets are measured to the centre of the vertical element unless otherwise noted.

Design References:

Ottawa Official Plan, City of Ottawa, 2003

Ottawa Cycling Plan [Draft], City of Ottawa, 2005

Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines, City of Ottawa, 2000

Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads (1999)

Ontario Ministry of Transportation Geometric Deign Standards for Ontario Highways