2-year detour planned for Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge replacement

Pedestrians and cyclists will be detoured to Holland Avenue to cross Highway 417 during the replacement of the pedestrian bridge that connects Wellington West and the Civic Hospital area.

Pedestrian bridge over Highway 417 was originally built in 1963

The replacement Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge, shown in this concept rendering, will have glass panels, a steel roof and anti-slip flooring. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Pedestrians and cyclists who use the Harmer Avenue bridge to cross Highway 417 between the Wellington West and Civic Hospital neighbourhoods will be re-routed for two years during work to replace it.

People attending a Tuesday night public meeting about the upcoming construction described their children using the bridge to get to school, meet with friends, walk to bus stops and connect to cycling routes north and south of the highway.

Elizabeth Murphy, the city's senior project manager on on the file, said that while the replacement of the main highway-spanning portion of the bridge will be done in a matter of days, other work will take longer.

"It's not only the bridge ... going over the Queensway, but we have a north and a south ramp that are quite large," Murphy said. 

The city says the current bridge has reached the end of its life cycle. The bridge was one of the first to cross a 400-level highway when it first opened in the 1960s. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The two ramps need to be longer than the existing structures to meet provincial accessibility standards, she said, and there will also be utility work, lighting, sound barriers and signage to install, as well as landscaping to do.

"We're really going to need two years to complete this project," she said. 

The detour is scheduled to begin in early May this year and the new bridge is set to open in June 2020.

Make bike lanes permanent, Leiper urges

The detour includes temporary segregated bike lanes running north and south on either side of Holland Avenue between Kenilworth Street and Byron Avenue.

Some parents expressed concern about children biking on Holland and cars backing out of driveways onto the street. City officials said staff will be taking those concerns into account when coming up with final designs.

Murphy said staff are also in contact with the principals of Fisher Park Summit Alternative School and Elmdale Public School, as well as the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, to make sure routes are safe.

Kitchessippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said he hopes the temporary bike lanes won't just be used by people detouring around the construction.

"It will be interesting to have the discussion with the city at the end of construction as to whether or not those cycling lanes come out," he said.

417 closures in June, September

There will be two closures on the 417 during construction for the demolition and replacement of the part of the bridge that crosses the highway, also known as a truss.

The first closure is expected to last 17 hours overnight the weekend of June 2-3 this year, according to the city.

The new, covered steel bridge structure will be installed in another 17-hour weekend closure overnight Sept. 22-23, also this year.

The bridge will remain closed until construction is finished.