Construction of downtown light rail tunnel underway

Crews are headed underground to begin work on the largest task in Ottawa's LRT project.

Holes being dug at Albert and Commissionaire's Streets

The first construction crews have started working on Ottawa's light rail tunnel around Albert and Commissionaire's Streets. (Denis Calnan/CBC)

Crews are headed underground to begin work on Ottawa’s downtown light rail tunnel.

A three metre-wide hole has been dug at the corner of Albert and Commissionaire’s Streets, which workers say is essentially the western portal to the 2.5 kilometre LRT tunnel.

"We’re just installing services," said Elgin Ozerdnic.

"If they need water when they’re doing some of the tunnels, to spray (for instance)… they have it available to them."

Building the tunnel is the single largest task of the $2.1 billion LRT project, bringing commuters from the western end of Queen Street to the University of Ottawa.

Area already noisy, resident says

The City of Ottawa said work on the tunnel will finish at 6 p.m. every day so residents won’t be disturbed as evening falls.

Area resident Andrew Michrowski said he’s become used to noise in his highrise apartment overlooking the construction site, with three condos going up around him and buses rolling down Albert Street all day.

"You hear it now, so when it’s rush hour those buses are going to be replaced in large part by the subway," he said.

"We’ll have less noise there."

The city said the tunnel is expected to save 10 to 15 minutes on a daily commute through downtown Ottawa when it's completed in May of 2018.

In other LRT news, the Ottawa's transportation committee is holding a special meeting Wednesday to vote on a route for the line's western extension.

The National Capital Commission has already said it wants the city to bury the entire line passing through the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway.