Thursday, October 22, 2009

DOTT plans affect west side residents (vii): Bayview Rapibus Station?

The City has been evaluating the structural soundness of the historic Prince of Wales Railway Bridge over the Ottawa River to Gatineau. The City bought it a number of years ago for transit.

Friends of the OTrain and  LRT transit proponents have long viewed the POW bridge as a great solution for taking transit across the River. The interprovincial transit study offered renewed hopes for extending LRT service from downtown Ottawa to Gatineau over the POW as the first phase of a loop system serving the two downtown employment centres and to alleviate bridge congestion. Alas, logic may be loosing out to other concerns.

I gather that a leading proposal for addressing interprovincial transit woes is to widen the POW bridge to a two lane transitway (not LRT or OTrain) to bring the Rapibus system (Quebec's new bus rapid transit system just like Ottawa's 25 year old transitway) over to the Ottawa shores. A transfer station and bus storage area would be constructed under the new Bayview Station, connected by elevators to our E-W LRT line. The Rapibus terminal would be in place until such time as LRT was extended across the River. Of course, building a new terminal and widening the bridge * will work to delay that day by at least a quarter century.

 I dislike the idea of building a bus parking lot on valuable LeBreton and Bayview Yards development lands. Extending the LRT across the river and having it service a transfer station on the Gatineau side and having a terminal station at Place de la Chaudiere makes more long-term sense to me. The interchange at Bayview would then be much smaller, more efficent, and technologically advanced. Has the interprovincial study really gone so far "off the tracks" and gotten stuck in bus mode?

* I hear rumors to the effect that the existing POW bridge is in really bad shape, and may only be worth the scrap value of its steel, and that to extend either bus transitway or LRT service from Gatineau will require a totally new bridge. In any case, double tracking it, converting/widening it to two way bus way, or building a new bridge altogether will be very expensive. Mind, a bike and pedestrian link along the bridge would make for a wonderful new link in the bike network.

1 comment:

  1. Putting a Rapibus station at Bayview rather than extending LRT across the PoW Bridge is one of the daftest ideas I've heard of, ever. A terminus at Chaudière makes far more sense. "Stuck in bus mode" sums up the problem all too well.

    As for the bridge itself, it took a fully loaded ballast train in 2001 as part of the work related to establishing the O-Train. Until the recent closure of the Domtar plant in Hull/Gatineau, the north end of the bridge saw freight trains with tanker cars going onto it before backing up along the spur to make deliveries to the Domtar plant. It's simply not credible for it to have deteriorated to a point where it would be excessively costly to repair for use by LRT. Indeed, my understanding is that it is the piers - not the superstructure - that is most in need of attention. This page has some photos of that day in 2001 when the last train came across: