Barrhaven LRT, Councillor Jan Harder, City of Ottawa

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Barrhaven LRT, Councillor Jan Harder, City of Ottawa

As of last November, Barrhaven is one step closer to having light rail transit (LRT) come out to this end of the city!

The extension of LRT to Barrhaven is part of the City’s plan for Stage 3 of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit System (which would also see the further extension of the system to Kanata and Stittsville). Phase 2 needs to be completed first before shovels are in the ground, but the planning and preparation start now for the 10 kilometre extension to the Confederation Line.  This new extension will take trains from Baseline Station at Algonquin College to the core of Barrhaven at Marketplace Station.

 

In late 2018, Council approved an Environmental Assessment study (EA) to find the best corridor for the LRT to Barrhaven.  Following approval, city staff studied various options that would meet the criteria for the safest, most affordable system and take into consideration the building of 3 rail grade-separations.  The latter being an essential component for safety. This safety improvement would help guard users by segregating the roadway, pedestrian and cycling facilities from the rail tracks below. Furthermore, concerns such as noise, elevations, and geotechnical conditions were all carefully studied to make sure that this future investment fit all the criteria.

The option experts chose, and council voted in favour of was to have 2.4 kilometres of rail travel from Algonquin College to the Nepean Sportsplex over an elevated structure. The elevation of the LRT will allow communities to remain geographically united and provide opportunities for landscape possibilities underneath the tracks. The remaining 7.6 kilometres of track from the Sportsplex to the Barrhaven Towncentre will be laid out on the existing transitway. This plan also includes three new bridges to be built. Three new bridges would be installed over the VIA Rail line at Woodroffe Avenue, the Southwest Transitway and Fallowfield Road, while below-grade rail would be dug out to pass under Berrigan Drive, Marketplace Avenue and Chapman Mills Drive. The final plan would ultimately see 10 km of twin-track light rail transit, 7 stations (4 of them replacing current bus stations and 3 new stations improving access to transit), a train storage facility near the VIA Rail overpass on Greenbank, bridges over the VIA Rail lines and a train terminal with 250 park-and-ride spots at the Barrhaven Town Centre. Additionally, new facilities for pedestrian and cyclists along the transit corridor, will improve access for all modes of transportation.The price tag of $3 billion dollars is certainly high, and the city has yet to determine funding sources for this project.  A positive note is that even before Phase 3 begins, the three rail grade-separations can begin at any time if council chooses and/or secures funding.  The cost to eliminate the level crossings at Woodroffe Avenue, Fallowfield Road and at the Southwest Transitway comes in at $400 million.

I have long advocated for better transportation to and from Barrhaven because our current system has many flaws. My office constantly hears complaints about buses not showing up, not stopping for passengers, and of course, overcrowding. Most of this might not be an issue right now due to people working from home because of COVID-19, but one day soon life will return

to normal and our ridership level will increase to higher levels than what was seen before the pandemic.

If the novel coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it’s not to take simple, everyday tasks for granted. The little things we do like riding public transport to and from work will become more enjoyable as a whole, and that will only continue to improve with the addition of light rail.

 

Phase 2 which is currently being worked on now will expand the Confederation line from Tunney’s Pasture to Moodie Drive in one direction, and from Tunney’s Pasture to Baseline Station (Algonquin College) in the other direction. The Trillium Line will also be expanded from South Keys to the growing community of Riverside South in one direction, and to the airport in another. This in itself will improve the bus service in Barrhaven. Thanks to the Vimy Bridge, the communities of Barrhaven and Riverside South are better connected than ever before. Buses will be able to take this route to go from the future LRT station in Riverside South to our community.

 

While massive projects like this take a lot of time and money, we will all greatly benefit from it in the end