Winter is finally over and a new season of construction is underway

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With Canada’s 150th birthday celebration on the horizon, this will be one of the National Capital’s busiest construction seasons ever. While making it difficult for Ottawa–Gatineau commuters at times, many projects will spark spending and have a lasting positive impact on our local economy.

Creating new roads and pathways in our region and repaving 150 kilometres of existing ones will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. With planning underway for large, city-wide festivities for our nation’s 150th birthday and with Light Rail Transit (LRT) scheduled to be completed by 2018, commuters are going to feel the crunch even more than usual.

While it may be painful for a while, these projects will both improve our city and make it more attractive to visitors, the lifeblood of any municipality.

Here is an overview of some of the biggest—and, most impactful—projects throughout the city.

 

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Light Rail Transit (LRT)

The Confederation Line—or Phase One—of Ottawa’s new LRT system will run from Tunney’s Pasture Station in the west through the heart of downtown to Blair Station in the east. Because many of the new stations are centrally located and require major construction in key traffic arteries, this project is going to cause major issues for many commuters.

While there will be no shortage of traffic disruptions in the downtown core from any number of projects, disruption from the LRT will be mitigated somewhat because the line will use a tunnel from Lyon Station to Rideau Station. The result will be fewer disruptions over shorter time periods.

 

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Nicholas Street

The largest disruption during construction of the Confederation Line will occur east of where the line resurfaces around Nicholas Street near the University of Ottawa.

Here, the transit way will be completely closed off and buses will get a dedicated lane both northbound and southbound on Nicholas Street, leaving only a single lane each way for cars. Aside from the obvious suggestion of taking alternative routes to avoid Nicholas Street, the city has made the following recommendations to help you cope with this disruption in an already traffic-congested area:

  • employers should try to offer staggered work days to help employees avoid rush-hour commutes; and
  • commuters should try biking, walking, taking the bus or carpooling to work.

 

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Rideau Street

Detours will be the order of the day on Rideau Street as it will be temporarily closed from Sussex to Dalhousie for construction of the LRT. Even when it reopens, it will be reduced to a single lane in each direction until May 2018. Even walking through the area will be challenging as the south-side sidewalk will also be closed for resurfacing.

For LRT Confederation Line updates, visit www.ligneconfederationline.ca.

 

Scott and Albert Street

Major sewer and sanitation work will cut traffic on Scott and Albert Streets to one lane in each direction in this already congested area. The bad news is that even after this work is done, Albert Street will not reopen a second lane thanks to LRT construction.

And here is fair warning for those who intend to walk or bike to work to shorten the commute: The multi-use pathway on Albert will also be closed for renovations.

 

Main Street

With the existing infrastructure on Main Street coming to the end of its serviceable lifespan, plans for a complete renewal of the street will include the introduction or replacement of

  • sidewalks, cycling facilities, and transit facilities;
  • street amenities, including landscaping and public art;
  • street lighting and signage;
  • water mains, sanitary and storm sewers;
  • lateral services to the property line;
  • utility reconstruction, as required;
  • traffic-control signal system; and
  • road structure and pavement.

Without a doubt, it will be a tough time for businesses and commuters along Main Street. But again, short-term pain. . .

 

Greenbank Road

The ongoing construction on Greenbank Road will be completed in 2017 when the section from Malvern Drive to Cambrian Road. is widened from two undivided lanes to four lanes divided by a median. Noise barriers will be created and landscaping will be done to compensate for the growing pains in the community.

Additionally, a new multi-use pathway will be constructed from Greenbank Road to the nearby Antler–Dolan pedestrian underpass on the west side of the boulevard with concrete sidewalks being added on the east side.

 

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McIlraith Bridge Rehabilitation

Located behind the Ottawa Hospital, the McIlraith Bridge has already gained new bike lanes, seismic upgrades, paving, painting and various repairs. While it is re-opened currently, it will be closed again this summer for construction that will finalize the renovation.

 

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Bike track on Mackenzie Avenue

Out of the Ontario government’s $10 million cycling fund, $325,000 will be used to create a 400-metre bi-directional bicycle track that will run between Rideau and Murray Streets and will link to the National Capital Commission’s riverfront paths.

Because of the added security measures in front of the United States embassy, the US government will help fund part of the $5.5 million cost of the project. The pathway, which will be part of a larger loop through the tourist district, is also being partially funded by the City of Ottawa.

 

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National Arts Centre About-Face

Although it will be open throughout the renovations, the formal re-opening of the National Arts Centre is slated for Canada day 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

The reconstruction promises to address what some feel is a long-standing mistake: the location of the front entrance. Currently, the building faces the canal and has its back turned on Elgin and Confederation Square. When construction is complete, the front entrance will offer a “magnificent glass atrium with a glittering entrance on Elgin Street, embracing Confederation Square and some of the most iconic views of important landmarks in our nation’s capital.”

 

Ottawa Arts Gallery/Arts Court

The OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment is a huge, $38.8 million project that will offer exhibition and curatorial spaces, event and education facilities, and a café and gift shop. Also look for

  • a 120-seat Black Box Theatre and four classrooms for the University of Ottawa;
  • a 250-seat multi-purpose screening room with retractable seating and projection booth for film and digital presentations, lectures and other functions;
  • a rooftop terrace and three outdoor courtyards; and
  • an improved east–west pedestrian throughway to Arts Court, linking it to the new OAG, the University of Ottawa and the future LRT station at the expanded Rideau Centre.

The new OAG will be complete in the late summer of 2017, and the new spaces within Arts Court will be ready in 2018.

 

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Following this construction season, there is no doubt Ottawa commuters will have a better appreciation for the less-travelled routes to work.

While it will cause frustration for many, the long-term gain is significant. We know that will be hard to remember, though, as you sit through yet another traffic-light cycle without getting through the intersection.

As difficult as the projects and the commuting issues they cause may be to deal with, these upgrades, renovations and construction make-overs will ensure that we continue to live in the most beautiful and culturally diverse city in the country. This is something we can both enjoy ourselves and share with visitors and their economy-boosting disposable income.

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