Thursday, October 22, 2009

DOTT plans affect west side residents (iv): closing the transitway during construction

The new LRT line runs along the existing transitway alignment, with some slight variations. During the construction period of 3-5 years that transitway will have to be closed to buses to permit construction of the new LRT stations and tracks. Where will the buses go?

Earlier plans by the city to move all the transitway buses onto Scott and Albert, starting at Tunney's Pasure, have been abandonned. Thankfully. The additions of 1000 buses per day per direction on Albert and Scott would have horrendous social and environmental impacts.

Instead, the City is proposing to totally rework the bus routes that currently use the transitway. Some will be shifted onto the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway. A temporary bus station along the Parkway at Tunney's is being considered. Other buses will be diverted to the Queensway and Carling Avenue. It is unclear what routes these buses would then take into the downtown core. The Parkway buses for example may take the Parkway/Wellington all the way to the core, or may exit the parkway at Bayview and switch to Albert, which will be unpopular with Dalhousie residents. Of course, many buses will still be diverted onto Scott/Albert  as that route directly parallels the transitway. Planners see an advantage in having commuters see the progress as the new LRT line and stations are being built. We know there will be intersection widenings and new stack lanes at Preston, at Booth, and possibly at Bayview. Will buses on the Qway exit at Rochester to head downtown? Will Carling buses be added to an already congested Bronson (which will be partially closed and rebuilt over the 2011-2012 construction seasons).

Traffic engineers have a thankless task during the construction period. Buses cannot simply be moved onto Scott/Albert, the road cannot handle the volume. So the bus traffic detour "pain" will be shared by a number of neighborhoods. A bus commuters will also suffer as more routes means a lower level of service on each route, and lengthier commutes.

Note that construction of the tunnel itself from a point just east of Booth will not interrupt transitway service much. However, the construction of the LeBreton, Bayview, and Tunney's stations are complex and lengthy. We can expect continued transitway service as far as Booth for the first two years of LRT construction, then the bus commuters will be detoured elsewhere for the final two or three years of construction for the tracks.

1 comment:

  1. I think we're going to get a lot of questioning during the construction period of this phase. Assuming the plan goes through, it will take years, and the deteriorating service (a necessary step backward for two or three steps forward, granted) will likely push people off buses. As ridership decreases, the political will to continue such huge expenditures follows suit, and it gets more difficult to get transit through. You're right in saying it will be a thankless job for the route planners at OC Transpo.