Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Election: Scharf on the DOTT

Over the course of the 2010 Mayoral Election campaign, Public Transit in Ottawa will be sitting down with as many mayoral candidates as are available, discussing their platforms and thoughts on transit in this city, and what they hope to achieve during their mandate, if elected mayor.

One of the main questions Jane Scharf has about the current transit plan is why Ottawa is moving forward with the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT). Scharf claims that there is a tunnel in place right now in downtown Ottawa, and that should be able to handle rail for the city. She also feels that rail should go across Alexandra Bridge into Gatineau, and that Byron Way should be looked at for an O-Train extension.
I think that there are a few questions we need to investigate before proceeding with this LRT tunnel deal. They would include: an investigation of the feasibility of putting the O-Train across the Alexandra Bridge, and the train link; investigating the use of the Byron right-of-way, we could have a streetcar on it; and a proper explanation of why the existing tunnel can’t be used.

I suspect that they don’t want to use it because there’s a plan to extend the congress centre across the area where the train would come up, you know, where Union Station is there?

There’s no reason, I don’t see any reason [why this tunnel isn't used], and I’m not getting any answers. I discussed this at length with Alex Cullen, and I have it on e-mail, the e-mail discussion, on my blog.
While talking to Scharf about these ideas of hers, a number of questions came up. Chief among them was her claims of a tunnel in downtown Ottawa; as far as I can tell, this 'tunnel' is the small opening at the former Sapper's Bridge downtown, underneath Wellington Street. This is the tunnel Alex Cullen describes in the e-mail discussion he and Candidate Scharf had. Scharf maintains that "one existing tunnel is enough", which is true, but this is hardly a tunnel, and even if it were, the question of getting trains to it and from it raise more questions.

Second is the possibility of using Alexandra Bridge for an O-Train extension. I thought Scharf had mis-spoke and, in fact, been referring to the Prince of Wales Bridge--which seems an obvious extension of the existing O-Train, and has been suggested by many in the past. But Scharf maintained that Alexandra was her desired spot for a river crossing, but she failed to outline how the train would get across downtown from where the O-Train arrives at Bayview to the Alexandra Bridge, which is to the east of the city's centre--although I assume the small tunnel under Wellington would be part of her explanation.

Finally is the suggestion of using Byron Avenue and the City's right-of-way there as an extension of the O-Train. This seems like the Western leg of the current transit plan and, as far as I understand, Byron will be one of several possibilities (also including the Ottawa River Parkway and Carling Avenue) investigated.

Scharf's main problem, though, is that she doesn't feel these possibilities have been suitably explored.
But they haven’t even investigated it, that’s my point. I’m not saying this is my transportation plan, but I’m saying that all viable options haven’t been investigated.


Eric S. Smith said...

Imaginary tunnel? Wrong bridge? Some fringe candidates are fringey for a reason, it seems.

Eric S. Smith said...

And that's not considering the 60 MPH gondolas.