Friday, June 01, 2012

Ottawa Transportation Committee to review interim report on Western LRT environmental assessment

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The Transportation Committee in Ottawa, ON, Canada, will consider an interim report of the environmental assessment on the western light-rail expansion at its meeting on June 6, 2012.

"As we keep our eyes sharply focused on getting shovels in the ground to build the heart of our new LRT system, it is also important to continue to prudently plan for the future," said Mayor Jim Watson. "My vision for this city is to see LRT run from Orléans in the east to Kanata in the west and from downtown to Riverside South and Barrhaven. But this cannot all be built in a day, or a year or even a decade. We put our resources where we need them first and nothing can be built without addressing the downtown bottleneck first."

The report indicates that four route options have emerged at the top from the original list of 15: Richmond/Byron via Churchill, Ottawa River Parkway, Richmond/Byron via Ottawa River Parkway and Richmond/Byron via Rochester Field. However, the Carling Avenue corridor has not been ruled out. The report's recommendations seek direction from the transportation committee and council to study the Carling corridor in more detail. At this point, no final decisions are being made or sought on selecting one preferred corridor.
The additional work will also be used to inform the upcoming review of the Transportation Master Plan. The completed Western LRT Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment study will come back to Committee and Council in the first quarter of 2013. Council is not currently scheduled to decide on a precise route for the Western Corridor until mid-2013.

Factors in the evaluation of western corridors include the following:

• Volume and speed: The primary rail service must deliver rapid, high-volume transit, which means 12,000 to 14,000 passengers per hour, per direction with four-car trains during peak commuter periods, with trains every two to three minutes.
• Cost: The 15 options examined for a rapid LRT corridor range in cost from $562 million to $2.5 billion. The four shortlisted are the most financially feasible.
• Linkage with existing transit infrastructure and compatibility with the city's planned rapid transit network, which includes the O-Train and Lincoln Fields Station.

This report will be considered by the Transportation Committee on June 6, 2012 and is expected to rise to council on June 27.

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