Editor’s note: Many commentators have noted that the decision by Mayor O’Brien to run again in this fall’s municipal elections means that he can campaign by claiming two significant achievements: spearheading the decision to build an East-West LRT that includes a downtown tunnel, and backing the proposal to redevelop Lansdowne Park. So far, the two major projects have been presented as “stand alone”; here Spacing Ottawa contributor Dwight Williams suggests a way to link them.
In the months since the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) brought forth their proposal for redeveloping Lansdowne Park, many different aspects to the proposed plan – and those of several competing proposals as well – have been discussed in many different forums, including here at Spacing Ottawa. The issue of transit support for events at the redeveloped park, however, seems to have largely escaped notice.
It’s not that OC Transpo, City Hall and the OSEG partners have ignored the transit issue. They haven’t. They’ve worked out contingency plans of their own, and those have been shown at open houses, and posted online for anyone with the time and inclination to track down and look at. It is possible that their planners have not thought all the consequences through, particularly in terms of scale.
For some days now, on the unofficial OC Transpo community weblog, I’ve been discussing a possible alternative solution to the expected traffic and transit issues with other riders and drivers: expanding the LRT tunnel network to include a branch running under and parallel to Bank Street.
The map explains most of the idea right off the top, but the lines connecting the proposed Somerset Station to the East-West Tunnel with question marks need explaining. The explanation is forthcoming.
The greatest issue – in addition to the problems of supporting all the activities that we hope to see Lansdowne host in the years to come – that the Bank Street Branch Tunnel might also help address would be traffic volumes in general along Bank between Billings Bridge and Wellington. That entire stretch of Bank Street becomes congested on a regular basis during the weekdays, no matter what happens at Lansdowne.
Back to those question mark-tagged lines. They cover the possible options for where to connect the Bank Street line to the East-West line in the Albert-Slater corridor. Three are shown, although there’s a fourth to consider. The lines could be connected – each possibly feeding the other – at either Lyon, O’Connor-Metcalfe or Rideau. The fourth option is to simply run the two lines almost perpendicular to each other, vertically stacked atop each other.
This north-south tunnel would certainly be an added expense, as would be expected of such an expansion of the scale of the LRTT.