The underground tunnel leading up to the future Cleary Station should be shifted to allow it to open up on Richmond Road, the project manager of the second phase of the light rail system told city council in a memo Thursday.

The initial plan was to have the tunnel cut through the property of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, which drew opposition from members of the congregation. 

'This is a really important improvement.' - Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper

The new plan would see the tunnel instead cut through an existing strip mall, allowing the station entrance to be directly on the busier Richmond Road instead of on Cleary Avenue, a side street.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said engineers worked around potential sewer and water challenges to make the station on Richmond Road possible.

He added that the relocation takes the station out of National Capital Commission green space.

"From the perspective of preserving green space, again, this is a really important improvement," Leiper said. "It now puts the Cleary Station right on Richmond Road. That's something that the city has sought for several years."

Chris Swail, the project manager of the second phase of the LRT, wrote in a city memo that the station would have been "obstructed from view" on Cleary Avenue due to an existing building and tree line.

A station on Richmond Road "would significantly improve the station location by increasing station visibility and accessibility from the street and improving pedestrian, cycling and vehicle connectivity with the surrounding community," he wrote in the memo.

A public information session will be held on April 14 at Notre Dame High School. The memo said that "no cost impact" is expected as a result of the change.

2 east-end changes

The memo also detailed two proposed changes to the LRT system east of Blair Station.

One change would see the tracks run further north on Blair Road, rather than the initial plan to run the tracks below two Highway 174 ramp structures.

LRT Ottawa

The project manager of the second phase of the LRT proposed moving the tracks north on Blair Road. (City of Ottawa)

"This improvement will decrease construction complexity and costs associated with the life cycle maintenance and inspection of the tunnel structures," Swail wrote in the memo, adding that the new design allows for future integration with the planned Cumberland Transitway.

The other change would see the LRT track transitioning into the median of Highway 174 about 2.3 kilometres further west than initially planned. The change would also result in Montreal Station moving from the north side of Highway 174 to the highway median above of Montreal Road.

LRT Montreal Station

The project manager of the second phase of the LRT proposed moving Montreal Station to the median of Highway 174. (City of Ottawa)

Swail wrote in the memo that the change would require Highway 174 to be widened to accommodate the station, resulting in the need to "bundle" the Montreal Road bridge replacement, which is planned within the next five years, to the second phase of the LRT.

He added that the change would reduce project costs by more than $12 million.

No information sessions have been planned for the two proposed east-end changes because they "have no significant impact on the overall functioning of the line," Swain wrote in the memo.

Read the full memo here.