Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chernushenko, part five: Subway is a "waste of money"

Ottawa's downtown core might soon brace itself for the construction of a tunnel that would accommodate the city's forthcoming light-rail system. Business support for the plan is high and many councillors are on board, but not all observers are on the same page.

One of Ottawa's leading green thinkers has doubts about the effectiveness of a downtown subway. David Chernushenko told Public Transit in Ottawa that there are better ways to approach light rail on downtown streets—even those as potentially cluttered as Albert and Slater streets.

"I think the subway alternative is a complete and utter waste of money. I think it’s the wrong approach, unless Ottawa is going to have a subway system—and I don’t believe we’re big enough to merit a subway system at the moment," he said.

Chernushenko added that although business support for the tunnel is currently high, the affected streets above ground are in for an overhaul that could affect revenue.

"It’s going to be one hell of a massive dig. It’s going to be a couple of years of major, major disruption. And I don’t think they thought through that," he said. "[Streets] are as blocked off above as they would be if it were entirely surface-length [rail] that was going in."

Businesses on Bank Street have complained about lower pedestrian traffic during the ongoing rehabilitation of that roadway. Albert and Slater are far less commercially intense, but those businesses that do exist on those arteries might be forced to weather some bad times.

Chernushenko cut the tunnel idea some slack and suggested that because a tunnel, if built, will be part of the larger light-rail project, it is still good news for Ottawa at the end of the day.

"Ultimately, whatever we do with our taxes and the inconvenience, we have to prepare ourselves to say it’s going to be a big inconvenience for a better future."


Part Four of David Chernushenko's Reflections on Ottawa Transit, a exclusive:

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Cycling
Part Three: Inside the Greenbelt
Part Four: Serving the suburbs
Part Five: Ottawa's subway


Ben said...

I think these businesses who complain about the disruption are forgetting about the long-term advantages.

These businesses should start saving money now to weather the tough construction period, but once that is over, they'll have a prime location near a subway hub. Ask any NYC business owner - that's where you want to be.

Nick said...

To be fair, there aren't many businesses complaining on Albert or Slater. And they know that being near a subway is the place to be, which is why they want the tunnel.

The Bank Street businesses are complaining because they're suffering now. And the Bank Street redevelopment is fairly slow going. And it only gets underway during the summer, when street traffic tends to be at its highest.

I think the problem on Bank is that the businesses can't save money now and might not be able to stick around for the post-construction boon (or boom).

Wei said...

Ottawa should definitely have a subway system one that stretches around the greater area of Ottawa something similar to how Toronto's system is like.

Building the subway benefits all long term and some businesses might have some tough times, but with the subway means expansion property values go up.

A lot can be said on this topic but the bottom line is Ottawa's The Nations Capital and the capital should have more then what the rest of Canada has but that's
just how i feel.

Whys Toronto the only Canadian team in the NBA Ottawa should have one.

Anonymous said...

umm.... to be fair, the greater Toronto area is about 4 times as big (at least) as Ottawa. It is only reasonable to expect a higher degree of infrastructure where there is a higher population at a much higher density. And NBA, really? its a numbers game.