A vision for Ottawa’s light-rail line is becoming clearer after the city revealed its preferred builder on Dec. 5.
While city council still has to vote to accept the deal on Dec. 19, station concepts have been fleshed out and are now available for people to view online at ottawalightrail.ca and at showcases around the city.
Rideau Transit Group’s proposal shows a cohesive series of neutral-looking wood and concrete stations with modern, modular entrances. Much of the wood will come from ash trees felled by the emerald ash borer.
Simple yet attractive design, intuitive passenger flow and integration with cycling and pedestrian facilities are key principles in the station design, according to Rideau Transit Group.
There will also be 300 bicycle parking spaces provided along Confederation Line, 80 per cent of which will be weather-protected. Stairway bicycle “runnels,” or tire ramps will allow cyclists to wheel their bikes up and down stairs and into the trains.
Escalators are listed for most of the stations, except Lees Station, which is one level, and Campus, Hurdman, Train and Cyrville stations, which will only have stairs and elevators.
Public art displays will be incorporated into the stations.
While construction will get underway in 2013, most significantly with the expansion of Highway 417 between Nicholas and the split, most of the light-rail construction impact won’t be felt until 2015.
That’s when the Transitway between Lebreton and Tunney’s Pasture will close so tracks can be laid down. Transitway buses would move onto Scott and Albert streets in dedicated bus lanes from Holland Avenue east.
Construction of the east entrance of the 2.5-kilometre downtown tunnel will close the Transitway south of Laurier Avenue to where the Transitway parallels Nicholas Street. Transitway buses will be detoured to the east side of this section of Nicholas Street and along Laurier Avenue to Laurier Station.
To the east, detoured Transitway buses will use a dedicated transit lane on the newly widened Highway 417, with some detours around St. Laurent Station.
The western rail terminal will have connections to the bus Transitway system and will feature a large pedestrian retail plaza. “Extensive” bicycle storage and washrooms will be available.
An area will be set aside for a future expansion of the station platform to the east, a pedestrian link to an expanded bus loop to the north and new entrances at the north and south ends of the station.
A new station at Bayview will mean no more climbing the hill from the Tom Brown Arena. New connections on the lower O-Train level of the two-level station will allow pedestrians and cyclists to access the station without having to cross Albert/Scott Street from Hintonburg and Mechanicsville. There will also be connections to a new network of multi-use pathways north of the station that will connect the station and Mechanicsville to LeBreton Flats.
The LRT station will be positioned above the O-Train tracks, with main station entrances at the O-Train platform and on Albert Street.
A new LeBreton Station will play a major role in the revitalization of the area, according to Rideau Transit Group’s materials. The two-storey station at LeBreton will involve reconstructing Booth Street and the Booth Street Bridge.
The station will be shifted under and to the west of the Booth Street Bridge to enhance its relationship with Booth Street with entrances on Booth and from the lower-level aqueduct, a city report states.
This station will celebrate Algonquin culture.
The western downtown station is the first underground station in the downtown tunnel under Queen Street. With concourses located 12.5 metres and 18 m underground, it will have two entrances: on the south side of Queen there will be a stand-alone entrance structure in front of the Delta Hotel; on the north side of Queen, the east entrance will be integrated into the Crehoy Building – part of the Place de Ville government complex. Directly across Queen Street from the Place de Ville entrance, there will also be a smaller, elevator-only entrance.
Wider sidewalks will accommodate large pedestrian volumes and the station will also connect to an existing north-south underground pathway connecting Albert and Sparks streets.
While the city invited rail builders to move the downtown east station as far east as Metcalfe Street in response to public requests for a station entrance at Confederation Square, the Rideau Transit Group discovered it would be too expensive. The consortium’s proposal keeps the station just east of O’Connor. Moving it would have meant digging a deeper – and more expensive – tunnel. It will already be 19 metres underground.
There are even advantages to keeping the station near O’Connor Street, according to a city report. Firstly, integrating a station into the Sun Life Building means a separate station wouldn’t have to be built, and secondly, the location puts north-south bus service on O’Connor instead of the more-congested Elgin Street
The second station access is a stand-alone entrance with an elevator and will be located just east of O’Connor Street.
Located two blocks from Parliament Hill and Confederation Square in the heart of the city’s business district, downtown east station is projected to have the most use of any station.
What the new plans did not include was a plan for a weather-protected link from the downtown east station to the National Arts Centre on Elgin Street.
Councillors are assured it’s still in the works.
“We haven’t heard the last of that yet,” said Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, the ward councillor for the area. “They’re trying to nail down where the route would go and how expensive it would be.”
But a city report says a connection through an underground tunnel to the NAC might be too expensive. The Rideau Transit Group and the city will hold a series of workshops to discuss alternate solutions, including the possibility of a covered pedestrian connection from the NAC over the Mackenzie King Bridge to the Ottawa Convention Centre and the Rideau Centre, which connects to the next LRT station to the east.
While a Rideau Station entrance north of Rideau Street at the Waller pedestrian mall is mostly finalized, how the station connects to the Rideau Centre is less clear.
While Rideau Transit Group’s materials reference an entrance at the corner of Rideau at Sussex/Colonel By drives (10 Rideau St.), no mall entrance is shown in the handout graphics.
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the exact mall entrance is still being hashed out with the mall’s owners, Cadillac-Fairview, and other nearby property owners, but there definitely will be a connection to the Rideau Centre.
“The exact location is still not settled,” Fleury said. “Definitely, there will be an entrance close to Sussex-Rideau and there will be something close to William mall, and there will be some integration into the mall itself.”
A city report states that the station tunnel, which will be 26.5 metres at its deepest point, will have pre-designed points for future tunnel connections to the Bay north of Rideau Street and to the east near Nicholas Street, where a future mall expansion is planned.
Fleury said having an entrance right in the ByWard Market north of Rideau will help capture ridership from the growing population in Lowertown and offer a good location for tourists to use the system.
The light-rail line returns above ground at Campus Station, where a new public plaza and retail concourse is planned. The station, which is a key part of the University of Ottawa campus, will retain the pedestrian underpass that connects it to multi-use paths along the Rideau Canal and the Corktown Bridge.
The current bus station in the Transitway trench at Lees will be replaced with an at-grade light-rail station serving residential towers in the area. The area connects to Old Ottawa East and Hurdman to the west with multi-use pathways. The addition of light rail is expected to spur more high-density residential development in the area and further expansion of University of Ottawa’s campus at 200 Lees Ave.
Hurdman will continue to act as a transit hub and will play an even more important role in transferring passengers from rail to bus. A new bus drop-off area is planned to allow passengers to transfer to light-rail (and vice versa) without having to re-validate their transit pass or transfer. The station will also include a retail area.
The new light-rail station for the Train terminal will be shifted away from the bus station. The new location, west of the bus Transitway and southwest of the road loop in front of the Via Rail station, is intended to allow future expansion of the Via station. The LRT station and the Via terminal will be linked by a covered walkway.
The station will serve Overbrook and neighbourhoods north of Highway 417 when a pedestrian link to the baseball stadium on Coventry Road is built.
The lowest level of the Transitway station at St. Laurent mall will be replaced with a light-rail station, while the upper concourses will retain bus service.
According to the Rideau Transit Group, this station is slated to have an interactive art installation illustrating the history of Ottawa development.
The new Cyrville Station will also be located in the existing Transitway directly northeast of Highway 417, below Cyrville Road. A main entrance plaza will invite riders in from the north side of Cyrville Road, with a secondary entrance on the south side.
A network of pedestrian and cycling pathways are planned around the station entrance.
Blair Station is the end of the line, at least for now, so it is expected to handle a large volume of riders. Pedestrian connections between Confederation Line, the bus Transitway, commercial lands to the north and the highway 174 pedestrian overpass to the west of Blair Road are priorities at this station. Riders will find a retail plaza and washrooms at this station.
For the full presentation and demonstration of the draft light-rail station designs, visit the city's LRT website at confederationline.ca.
To read city's staff's report to council on the light-rail deal and the proposed stations, click here.