Info Session: Inter-Provincial Bridge Crossing
Residents of Rothwell Heights and other communities attended an information session organised by the Honourable Mauril Bélanger (our federal MP) and the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur (our provincial MPP) on June 28th 2010 at Séraphin-Marion Elementary School.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring local residents up to speed on recent developments regarding a proposed new Inter-Provincial Crossing.
While the mandate of the study was expanded at the end of Phase 1 to consider three options 5, 6, and 7, two other potential options were presented at the information session:
The Canotek Option
Option 6.5, also dubbed the Canotek Option, is a variation on options 6 and 7 and is being promoted by Belanger and Meilleur as the most “community-friendly” option. Located on the east edge of the Robert Picard sewage treatment plant and Canotek industrial park, the Canotek Option is the only corridor that would maintain safe distances from existing communities. However Bélanger added that key to the success would be the following prerequisites:
- The 174/417 split would be reconfigured to take into account higher truck traffic branching onto the 417 towards Montreal
- Highway 174 would be widened from the split to the bridge exchange and possibly further east
- The planned light rail system would be extended to Canotek with the goal of eventually linking with public transit on the Outaouais side
- Bridge traffic would be prevented from exiting onto Montreal Rd.
- Bridge traffic would be prevented from exiting onto the Rockcliffe Parkway
Bélanger explained that if all these prerequisites were met, that the Canotek Option would not create any additional traffic worries relative to any of the other three options being studied. He reiterated that the Canotek Option is the only option that doesn’t transplant the truck traffic problem from one community to another. For more information on the “Canotek option”, please see the front page article of Info Ottawa Vanier, Summer 2010 (the news sheet of the Honourable M. Belanger), recently delivered to our doorsteps.
The Tunnel Option
A tunnel option has been promoted by various affected communities. Hugh Carter, an Orleans resident and member of Sensible Crossings, presented an overview of the tunnel concept to the audience. The concept consists of a tunnel that connects the foot of MacDonald-Cartier Bridge to the Nicholas ramp onto the Queensway. This would force truck traffic underground and significantly reduce their travel time from Gatineau to the 417.
Carter stated that a new bridge might attract only 40% of trucks from King Edward whereas a tunnel would remove all of them. The tunnel option is not intended to increase crossing capacity. Since the total crossing capacity would remain unchanged, this tunnel is seen as a solution to remove truck traffic from downtown streets, not to accommodate projected traffic growth between Ottawa and Gatineau. One might therefore infer that the tunnel option would encourage more use of public transit; whereas a new east end bridge would encourage more commuters, more cars, more gridlock, and more pollution.
Carter also argued that easier access to east Gatineau (via a new bridge) will result in real-estate prices rising on the Gatineau side, with an inevitable reduction or stagnation of prices in our area. He estimates that the cost for a tunnel would be in the $400-500M range, no more than what a new bridge would cost.
Minister Meilleur explained that the Ontario Government is considering these additional two options (the Canotek and tunnel options) and will make its position known in the coming weeks. We welcome input from our residents and invite your comments to the RHPOA.