About 100 residents were at last night’s LRT open house to hear about the latest plans for the light rail extension from Moodie Drive to Hazeldean Road in Stittsville.
Paul Croft, a project planner from the engineering firm Parsons walked us through various options that they’ve considered for the light rail route, station locations, and storage and maintenance facilities. Here’s a map of the new preferred route.
I’m pleased to see the extension all the way to Hazeldean Road. It puts an LRT station within walking distance of thousands of housing units in various stages of planning and construction. Every single one of those subdivision approvals includes a transportation study that touts the proximity of mass transit. We are already seeing congestion on our roads and current bus routes, so rapid transit (bus or trains) can’t come soon enough.
The western portion of the LRT track, from Didsbury to Hazeldean, would be elevated about 5 metres off the ground. (That’s the green section in the map.) “SkyTrain” might be glorifying it a little, but the consultant at last night’s meeting described it: “Like Vancouver’s SkyTrain or Scarborough’s SRT.”
At first I wasn’t happy with the three stops in close proximity: Palladium, Maple Grove, and Hazeldean — that’s three stations in 2km. But the idea is starting to grow on me. The City wants to place the stations in strategic locations that will encourage more transit-oriented development — higher-density housing, shops, offices — and each of these three locations are conducive to that approach. (Disclaimer: My house would be less than 1 kilometre from the Maple Grove station.)
I still think there are too many park-and-rides. I’d like to see the stations better integrated with the neighbourhood, and more emphasis on bus connections to existing communities. You shouldn’t have to drive to take the train. (Not to mention the cost of park-and-rides. The Ottawa Citizen calculated the cost of the new Innovation Drive lot in Kanata at $47,000 per parking space!)
I’m not convinced by the plans for the new Eagleson-March station. The idea is to put the LRT station north of the Queensway near the existing O.P.P. facility, and integrate with the bus network. A pedestrian bridge would cross over the Queensway to connect to the park-and-ride lots to the South. The March-Eagleson-Campeau-Queensway interchange is a mess today, and the proposed configuration looks even messier.
More notes from last night:
- As it stands, none of this would be built until beyond 2031. This extension is considered “Stage 3” of Ottawa’s light rail network. If there’s funding from the federal and/or provincial governments, the timeline could be moved up sooner — but not before 2023, when Stage 2 is scheduled to open.
- It’s quite possible the extension will be built in phases. For example, phase 1 could extend to Terry Fox, and phase 2 could take the project all the way to Hazeldean Road. It all depends on funding.
- The light rail track would run along the east side of the future Robert Grant Avenue between Palladium and Hazeldean.
- No recommendation in this plan for a “spur line” to the Kanata North business park, but several residents asked for that at the meeting.
- The extension requires an additional maintenance/storage facility for the trains. There were a couple of sites considered in Stittsville, but as it stands the preferred location is near Moodie Drive and Corkstown Road.
- The station at Palladium will include a direct pedestrian connection into Canadian Tire Centre — assuming the arena is still there in 2031.
- Oh the irony. The Palladium station would be across the street from a massive auto park. The City is hoping a transit station will encourage redevelopment around the arena.
- Travel time between stations is estimated at 60-90 seconds, with another 60-90 second stop to let people on and off. Total travel time from Hazeldean to Eagleson would be about 15 minutes.
- A multi-use recreation pathway will “closely parallel” the LRT route, where possible.
- You’ll only be able to bring your bike on the trains during off-peak hours, not rush hour.
- Residents can send comments to Angela Taylor, Senior Project Engineer, Transportation Planning, at email@example.com 613-580-2424 Ext. 15210. There’s more info online at www.Ottawa.ca/KanataLRT
- Recommendations will be presented to the City’s Transportation Committee and City Council in March-April 2018.