LRT delay impacts Sandy Hill

John Verbaas

Over the past few years many of us in Sandy Hill have been patiently waiting for the unwinding of the traffic detours that have been in place to accommodate the Transitway buses that were being displaced by LRT construction. The plan of the City of Ottawa had been to restore our street connectivity within a month or so of LRT startup which originally had been planned to occur in May 2018. Thus the announcement of the delay until Nov 2018 means a longer wait for us in Sandy Hill.

There are three major areas of impact in Sandy Hill. First is the loss of access to eastbound Highway 417 from the Lees  Avenue on-ramp. This has forced convoluted alternate driving routes to access eastbound Highway 417 from Sandy Hill. Second is the prohibition of right turns from southbound Nicholas Street onto Laurier Avenue. This too has forced convoluted routes returning home, driving westbound along Highway 417. Lastly there is the re-arrangement of the intersection of King Edward Avenue and Laurier Avenue East, which prohibits left turns at all times from Laurier to northbound King Edward.

Unfortunately, the first two areas of impact will now have to continue well into 2019 since the construction work required to unwind these bus detours cannot happen during the winter months. Thus the six-month LRT delay will probably result in an extension of these traffic impact areas in Sandy Hill of up to 12 months. For the third change (King Edward/Laurier intersection), it would appear that the city is considering not to restore the original configuration (allowing northbound left turns from Laurier to King Edward). There is some evidence that this restriction has had the positive benefit of reducing traffic coming up Nicholas or out of downtown and using Laurier for heading northbound to Gatineau. That traffic flow has adjusted to using alternate routes and perhaps it is best to keep it that way.

The startup of the LRT also promised to bring a number of positive changes to cycling and pedestrian movements in our area which we were looking forward to enjoying this summer. We will now have to wait to benefit from these until summer 2019 as well. These include a new multi-use pathway along the O-Train tracks between Lees and Laurier, raised separated cycle tracks on Laurier Avenue between Nicholas and Waller streets, and a bi-directional bike lane added to Waller between Laurier and the Mackenzie-King bridge.

Sandy Hill residents will have another year of practice at developing the virtue of patience!