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OTTAWA — The public will have a chance in June to look at the three potential six-lane routes and intersections proposed for a controversial new interprovincial bridge across the Ottawa River.
On Thursday, the consultants conducting a $4.3-million federal environmental assessment study presented the routes for three bridge options under consideration — Kettle Island, Lower Duck Island and Gatineau Airport/McLaurin Bay.
“As we move forward … our hope is that the public will help us confirm that those are the alignments that are appropriate to take into the evaluation process,” said Christopher Gordon, of the Roche-GENIVAR Joint Venture.
“If there are any comments that we receive from the public input, we look forward to being able to tweak these alignments,” he said.
An open house will be held in Gatineau on June 5, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Maison du Citoyen, 25 Laurier Street. A second open house will be held in Ottawa on June 12, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Boulevard in Orléans.
The proposed routes:
• Corridor 5 starts at an existing interchange at Highway 50 in Gatineau. It travels south on Montée Paiement, crosses the Ottawa River over Kettle Island and continues south along the Aviation Parkway to the Highway 417-174 Split;
• Corridor 6 starts at an existing interchange at Highway 50 in Gatineau. It travels south along Boulevard Lorrain, crosses the Ottawa River to the east of Lower Duck Island and continues across Green’s Creek, near the sewage treatment plant, to a new interchange at Highway 174;
• Corridor 7 starts at a new interchange at Highway 50 in the vicinity of the Gatineau Airport. It travels south along a new road, across the wetlands of McLaurin Bay, crosses the Ottawa River and continues across a portion of the Greenbelt to a new interchange at Highway 174.
The routes were developed with input from 18 meetings, ranging from individuals who back onto the corridors, to interest groups, such as the trucking community, said Gordon.
“Residents that could be potentially impacted by any of these changes in these corridors were able to provide us with valuable input.”
The National Capital Commission-led study has increased the number of lanes from four to six, to accommodate bus lanes, said Gordon.
It introduces grade-separated or “diamond” intersections on Corridor 5 at Maloney Boulevard, Rockcliffe Parkway, Montreal Road and Ogilvie Road.
Corridor six has been changed. Previously, the alignment was east of the Rockcliffe Parkway. Now it is located to the west and crosses Green’s Creek. It partially follows a “Canotek Option” that Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Belanger has been advocating.
The options will be evaluated in September by a 22-member evaluation committee, whose names are not being released. The committee’s recommendation on a preferred corridor will be announced in the fall.
The evaluation process will be reviewed by a fairness auditor.
The project partners are the National Capital Commission, the ministries of transportation for Ontario and Quebec and the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau.
Proponents say a new crossing is needed to relieve congestion on the existing five bridges and divert truck traffic away from King Edward Avenue and the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, which handles an average of 2,100 heavy trucks daily.
But those who live near the three possible routes have vigorously argued that a new crossing corridor would devastate their communities.
The cost of a new bridge has been estimated at between $70 million and $180 million, with a total project cost of $500 million, including road construction.
John Forsey represents Sustainable Solutions, a group with members affected by all three corridors under study, as well as those affected by the truck traffic on the King Edward Avenue/Rideau Street/Waller street/Nicholas Street (KERWN) corridor.
A bridge at any of the three corridors is a bad idea and will not stop trucks from rolling through downtown Ottawa on their way to and from the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, says Forsey.
“What it will do is encourage urban sprawl, increase congestion in Ottawa and Gatineau and increase air pollution,” he says.
Better solutions might be a tunnel linking Nicholas south of Laurier directly to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and one or more light rail links across the river, he adds.
Alexa Brewer, an Orléans resident who represents a community group called Common Sense Crossings, says the proposals for corridors 6 and 7 are unacceptable.
“There will be impact on traffic from Clarence Creek to Beacon Hill. They essentially have created a second split on 174,” says Brewer.
“It’s an elevated structure that is going to impact Orléans in terms of noise and everything else. It impinges on farms, on bike paths. Before, there was one route going across the Greenbelt. Now there’s three,” she says.
“These maps keep changing and it’s almost impossible to get an idea of what you’re dealing with in terms of height, width and location.”
Christophe Credico, of the Manor Park Community Association, says the association objects to the project.
“Of the three options currently under consideration, the Kettle Island corridor is the most densely populated, and would result in the most significant negative health, safety, and community impacts on the largest number of residents,” says Credico.
“Shifting the truck problem from one heavily populated corridor to another is unacceptable.”
Jane Brammer, president of the Rothwell Heights Property Owners Association, says questions arise about the proposed routes.
“In Corridor 7, why does the (route) cross the Greenbelt at an angle, thereby creating a much longer run through green space than is necessary?
“It appears that Corridor 5 in Ontario will allow access to and from the Rockcliffe Parkway, and Montreal and Ogilvie roads, whereas it appears in corridors 6 and 7 in Ontario, that access will only be to and from Highway 174.
“These differences appear to cause potential bias when comparing the three options,” she says.
While negative impacts on communities appear to be least with Corridor 7 and most with Corridor 5, “there are still fatal flaws in every corridor — communities, heritage, or environmental assets which should not be put at risk.
“There is a need for up-to-date, origin-destination traffic data, particularly for large trucks,” she adds.
“This opportunity for public consultation is an important step in the study. But it remains to be seen whether it will allay long-held community concerns and distrust in the consultants and the study process.”
The consultations also will solicit the public’s input into the evaluation factors being used to select the corridor and their weighting.
Factors include social, cultural, human health, environmental, transportation and economic.
The final round of consultations in late winter/early spring 2013 will include preliminary design of the proposed bridge.
For more information: www.ncrcrossings.ca.
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