It should only take five minutes to walk from Canadian Tire Centre to Tanger Outlets or Minto’s Arcadia neighbourhood, but City officials are advising pedestrians to take a bus, car or cab because the Huntmar Bridge is too dangerous.
We wrote last week about the lack of sidewalks on the bridge, which crosses the Queensway and connects Kanata North with Stittsville. When Tanger Outlets opened last Friday, on site parking quickly filled up and cars were directed to park at Canadian Tire Centre. The mall’s management provided shuttle buses to cross over Huntmar Bridge, and police were advising pedestrians to stay off the overpass.
We asked the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), City of Ottawa, and local city councillors to comment on the issue.
Brandy Duhaime, a spokesperson with MTO, says that the province would only add a sidewalk if the City of Ottawa covered the cost. Any safety measures (including signage and enforcement) are the sole responsibility of the City.
Here’s the response we received from Vivi Chi, the City of Ottawa’s manager of transportation planning:
The Huntmar Road-Queensway overpass is not designed for safe or comfortable pedestrian travel. The City did engage with the Ontario government when the rehabilitation of the overpass was being planned to see if pedestrian/cycling facilities could be added to the structure. However, the existing structure cannot support a modified deck of any significant width to be beneficial for pedestrians and cyclists. It was suggested that a new footbridge be built adjacent to the existing one but this option is not affordable for the City as a stand-alone project.
The City is reviewing the need for signage in the area to keep pedestrians off the narrow overpass. Police have authority to enforce this prohibition.
The City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) does include enhancements to the area road system in the 2014-2019 period. One such project is the widening of Campeau Drive (from Huntmar to Didsbury). This new four-lane roadway running parallel to Highway 417 will serve the Tanger site and nearby new developments. Campeau Drive will have both cycling and pedestrian facilities and the development areas around the Tanger site will have additional parking.
In the long term, the eventual widening of Huntmar Road will also involve widening the overpass, and at that time, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure will be included. This is planned as a Phase 3 project for implementation in the period between 2026-2031.
We note that OC Transpo has begun transit service to the new Tanger development. Details are here:
(OC Transpo buses serving Tanger Outlets were detoured away from the shopping centre on Friday due to heavy traffic. Bus riders could transfer on to one of Tanger’s shuttles at Canadian Tire Centre.)
There currently are no sidewalk connections to Tanger Outlets or Arcadia. Besides Huntmar Bridge, the other linking roads are Huntmar to the north and the Queensway on-ramp to the west.
Shad Qadri, city councillor for Stittsville, says he’s concerned about pedestrian safety on the bridge, and he’s talked with city staff and councillors to find a solution.
“The discussions with west end councillors and staff have included the need to review bringing the widening of Huntmar Road to an earlier timeline in the TMP and we will continue to look into opportunities to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile to the east, there’s a similar problem on the Eagleson Road overpass. The bridge connects the Eagleson Park and Ride with Kanata North — but doesn’t have any sidewalks.
“Last year when it became known that the province had not included paved pathways to the Eagleson bridge in their work plans we began the process to ask for reconsideration,” said Allan Hubley, the councillor for Kanata South.
“I have had several meetings with staff for updates and expect an answer from the province after the election period,” he said.
Marianne Wilkinson, councillor for Kanata North, says she’s been working on getting sidewalks built for both bridges.
“I had asked MTO repeatedly to include a sidewalk on the Huntmar bridge but they said it couldn’t be accommodated,” she said.
Both the Eagleson and Huntmar overpasses underwent repair and maintenance work this summer.
Here are a few comments from our readers:
Maureen Miller-Lamoureux, via Facebook: “The article mentions that the municipality didn’t ask for sidewalks? Why? Did they not think they were needed? Does the city of Stittsville have a beef with walkers, bikers?”
Amanda Libbey Wittebol, via Facebook: “Wow! I was planning on walking there in the spring for sure (it would only be about half an hour) We always walk to the Canadian tire centre, but I guess a little further is out of the question.”
Mike Philpott, via Facebook: “I just dodged a few people who were walking to tanger outlets. Not safe at all!!”
Do you think the Huntmar Bridge needs sidewalks? Are there other areas in Stittsville that have poor pedestrian facilities? Tell us about it in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org