Here’s another “blue sky” LRT idea for discussion and debate. Several factors have been in play in recent months, including but not limited to these:
- the recent dispute over the placement of the eastern Centretown station of the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (or “DOTT”) between City Hall and assorted other parties
- the accelerated preparations for actual construction on the tunnel itself now underway, including the archeological work in progress at the Lebreton station site(and if you’re interested in additional visuals on that research, check this Ottawa Citizen link)
- City councilor Stephen Blais’ suggestion of extending the existing LRT proposal’s eastern end out to Place d’Orléans
Therefore, why not this as well: an LRT line running between the Rideau Centre/ByWard Market district to the Trim Road Transitway station in Orléans?
This is not intended as a “last word” on the subject. Rather, call it a starting point for the discussion. Whether the line runs underground, aboveground, on elevated tracks, and for how much of which part(s) of the length of the route; whether or not the whole line as proposed gets built from end to end; Where the stops are placed along the way…all of these are up for discussion and – should the discussion go far enough – negotiation.
The basic idea, however, remains an LRT line running in tandem along Rideau Street, Montreal Road and St. Joseph Boulevard. There are at least two points where it would intersect with Councilor Blais’ proposed eastern extension, and we’ll run through the proposed stops from west to east covering the neighbourhoods reachable from each of those stops along the way.
For the sake of discussion, we start at Rideau Centre, a logical hub given the history of the area and the plan to run the eastern end of the DOTT under that mall. The ByWard Market, Lowertown West and Sandy Hill would all feed into and be fed by the traffic of Rideau Station.
Next: King Edward Avenue. This is one point where the “Eastern Line” might well surface Spadina-style from underground to join or depart the surface traffic stream. All points from the Pearson Building to Mann Avenue might be reached by assorted bus or streetcar lines from that intersection. Whether or not Lowertown and Sandy Hill residents will be comfortable with the proposed further changes in traffic flow is certainly grounds for debate. Certainly, there’s been a longstanding issue regarding truck traffic between Ottawa and Gatineau. The execution of this might well depend on whether or not such traffic can be diverted to whatever degree possible.
The route continues through Charlotte Street/Lowertown East, serving the residential, light commercial and diplomatic traffic therein, continuing across the Cummings Bridge through Vanier, along what has become Montréal Road. Exactly where along the Vanier portion of Montréal Road to place that district’s LRT stop is unclear, although the Vanier Parkway intersection is likely. To the north of Vanier proper, there’s New Edinburgh, Lindenlea, Rockcliffe Park and the western reaches of Manor Park. To the south, Overbrook-McArthur and Castle Heights.
St. Laurent: A major interchange, not unlike King Edward. This particular north-south boulevard could arguably host a streetcar line in its own right. That remains a subject for a separate essay and debate. Service can be provided from this point to two of the Near East End’s largest cemetaries, Notre Dame and Beechwood, as well as residents of Manor Park, the western half of the former CFB Rockcliffe in the event of its successful redevelopment to the north. South of Montréal Road we can see communities and malls served including eastern Overbrook, Forbes-Cummings-Cyrville, Eastway Gardens AKA the former Bannermount, Cyrville Industrial Park, Elmvale Acres and Sheffield Glen as well as St. Laurent and Elmvale Malls.
Aviation/Montfort: Serving the road up to the Aviation and Space Museum and the eastern end of CFB Rockcliffe as well as providing out-patient and visitor access to Montfort Hospital, the main campus of la Cité Collegiale, Viscount Alexander Park, Finter’s Quarries, Carson’s Grove.
Blair Road/NRC Campus: The heart of scientific research inside the Greenbelt. To the north, Rothwell Heights, and to the south Gloucester Centre Mall, the old Telesat campus and the Pineview district. From there we move to…
Ogilvie/Beacon Hill: The last stop before the Greenbelt covers Beacon Hill North and South, Beacon Heights and what’s called either Canotek Park or Queensway Industrial Park, including the Pickard Environmental Centre.
In the middle of the Greenbelt is Queensway/Blackburn Hamlet. This is one of three possible spots where our proposal and Councilor Blais’ idea could be merged, depending on how the discussions, negotiations and environmental assessments go. It might well be that a single LRT from here onward could be the best course chosen.
If it’s decided that redundancy is as useful here as it often is elsewhere in the transit system, the line will move onto Jeanne d’Arc. The traffic circle recently put in place at that intersection might survive the LRT’s installation intact, with the station serving Hiawatha Park, Convent Glen, Youville Industrial Park, the western end of old Orléans Village, the northern reaches of Chapel Hill, and select portions of Orléans South.
The next logical spot to merge the two proposed lines would be at Place d’Orléans. Since its opening in 1979, Place d’Orléans has served as the hub of the region. Bus routes operating in Orléans that don’t visit this mall are rare indeed.
Tenth Line Road: Since it feeds the Queensway from north and south, this street seems a good next stop. We have the Ottawa Police East Division HQ here, as well as the only hotel in Orléans right next door.
We end at Trim Road Transitway Station. Right across its namesake roadway from Taylor Creek Business Park, a growing centre of light to medium industrial commerce, it also provides for the needs of Petrie Island users, the students of the new eastern campus of la Cité and the residents of eastern Orléans, one of the continuing growth zones of residential suburban Ottawa. While the current population density might argue against expanding Trim Road to include LRT as well as bus service, long-term intensification growth might well mitigate in favour over the decades to come.
To close, a reminder: none of this is meant to end any discussion, but rather to kick-start it. As you can see, a wide range of neighbourhoods, services, and businesses would make much use of this line, but it may not be the best configuration for it or the best time. If not, let’s figure it out now before we start building.