Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ottawa: Going underground?

Is a tunnel the answer to Ottawa's public transit problems? Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien believes so, and he said as much to the media yesterday. As per the Ottawa Citizen:

The City of Ottawa's planning staff unveiled four options for a new city-wide transit plan for the city Monday, each costing at least $3 billion. The options include going with a big expansion of the bus-transitway system or spending heavily to get Ottawans onto light-rail commuter trains.

But all the options include a tunnel, or subway, under downtown - a huge engineering project intended to lead to construction of shops and service businesses underground. The city says it must go underground because downtown is near its capacity for dealing with transit. Without a subway, a surface transit system would need a bus to arrive every 10 seconds at downtown stops by 2031, according to the city.

Building a subway "takes away the bottleneck" that is choking the city-wide transit system, Mr. O'Brien said in an interview. He said the north-south light-rail plan of his predecessor, Bob Chiarelli, would not have worked because the vehicles would have been stuck in road traffic with other vehicles. Mr. O'Brien said voters "intuitively know" that the city needs to go underground to improve transit service.


The subway would likely run from LeBreton Flats, near Bronson Avenue in the west, to the University of Ottawa in the east, with several stations along the way to serve the city's most densely populated blocks. Buses would no longer congest Albert and Slater streets.

It is true that a proactive solution to downtown commuting might be cost-effective in the long run. And it's also true that an underground system will solve a lot of problems with regards to the weather. And it's definitely true that Albert and Slater are tremendously congested. And development of underground shops and services should help develop Ottawa businesses.

I would tend to agree with Alta Vista Ward Counciller Peter Hume, who suggests that it might be the only realistic solution to downtown Ottawa's growing transit needs.

No comments: