Kettle Island seen as best interprovincial bridge option

The National Capital Commission said it is recommending the sixth interprovincial bridge connecting Ottawa to Gatineau cross over Kettle Island.
The NCC has chosen Kettle Island as its preferred bridge to address truck traffic downtown. 2:30

The National Capital Commission said it is recommending the sixth interprovincial bridge connecting Ottawa to Gatineau cross over Kettle Island.

The corridor at Kettle Island near the Rockcliffe Airport was one of three options the NCC considered for the proposed interprovincial bridge. The other two options were farther east at Lower Duck Island and McLaurin Bay.

At a technical briefing Tuesday, NCC representatives laid out the plan for the proposed bridge, which would be finished by 2031.

The corridor would have two lanes for cars and one for buses in both directions, as well as a multi-use path. It would connect Ottawa's Rockcliffe and Aviation parkways with Montée Paiement in Gatineau.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.16 billion. A planner with the NCC said talk of tolls to help fund the project was outside the report's mandate, but said all models are possible.

MPP says area is at capacity

Ontario east-end MPP Phil McNeely said the proposed bridge is a bad deal for his community and said no bridge would be preferable.

"Given the number of commuters we currently have on Highways 417 & 174, there is simply no capacity to accommodate all the additional traffic that would come from Gatineau," McNeely said in a statement issued after the technical briefing.

Area resident Judy Lishman said she's been fighting this proposal for two decades.

"There's a huge health and safety issue, having trucks with hazardous material driving by a major hospital (Montfort) — this is not a good idea," she said, also mentioning the dangers of truck pollution.

Cumberland ward councillor Stephen Blais said the federal money would be better spent elsewhere.

"If they have another billion dollars to spend or a billion and half dollars to spend on transportation in the national capital, they should do that on public transit with an extension of the light rail train to Orleans," he said.

Gatineau's city council has voiced its support for this proposal.

Truck traffic up by 2/3 if no bridge

The NCC is hoping a new bridge can reduce future truck traffic and congestion on King Edward Avenue and downtown Ottawa caused by transport vehicles crossing from Quebec to Ontario via the centrally located MacDonald-Cartier Bridge.

Consultant Eric Peissell said it's a future increase they want to avoid, not a future decrease they want to set up.

"If we don't construct this crossing there'll be a two-thirds increase in (downtown) truck traffic," he said.

While the NCC is recommending the bridge location, it would be up to the federal and provincial governments to approve the plan.

The first public consultation on the proposal will be on May 27 at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

"How can we make something that we can all be proud of, because not only does it provide linkages economically and from a traffic perspective, but it helps integrate the region, it provides for social cohesion," said Fred Gaspar with the NCC.

"That's the kind of conversation that can best be animated through a broad public discussion."