Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Fifth Avenue crossing sped up for Lansdowne

The NCC and City of Ottawa say they're fast-tracking the process of putting a new, safer crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway near Lansdowne Park for the start of the CFL season, a move some residents say they've wanted for years.

NCC says goal is to get new light, crossings for intersection by July 18

The City of Ottawa and National Capital Commission say they're fast-tracking upgrades to the intersection at the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Fifth Avenue to be ready for the opening of Lansdowne Park. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The National Capital Commission and City of Ottawa say they're speeding up the process of putting in a new, safer crossing on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway near Lansdowne Park to hopefully be ready for the Ottawa Redblacks home opener.

In 2010, the NCC selected four "priority" crossings along the NCC's parkway system after a study they started in 2008: Colonel By Drive at the Hartwell Locks (upgraded last year), Queen Elizabeth Driveway at Fifth Avenue, Colonel By Drive at Clegg Avenue and Queen Elizabeth Driveway at Commissioner's Park

A public consultation was held at the Canal Ritz restaurant Tuesday morning at the intersection of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Fifth Avenue, giving the public a chance to see the latest plans for the proposed crossing.

The plans would take the current intersection, with no lights and one crosswalk, and add two pedestrian-only crossings, two cyclist-only crossings and a traffic light.

Diana Rivington lives a few blocks away at Queen Elizabeth and First Avenue and said the Driveway has turned from a scenic route to a commuter route.

"I don't do the 100-yard dash to cross the street," she said.

"I'd like to be able to turn on a light and walk… this morning I had to wait for something like 20 cars just whipping by."

Target Redblacks home opener

One of the placards set up by the NCC and city at the consultation said "construction is being fast-tracked, with the goal of completion by July 18, 2014, in line with the completion of the new Lansdowne Park."

Organizers said they can foresee a near future where more people will need a crossing as they use the Driveway or Rideau Canal pathways to get to games, concerts or other events at the park.

Cedric Pelletier says they need to finalize plans and issue a tender before the upgrades can be made. (CBC)

"We're projecting heavier flows of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians crossing," said NCC spokesperson Cedric Pelletier.

"The idea is to be ahead of the game for the summer season of the Redblacks or whenever they want to access the Rideau Canal Skateway during wintertime."

After Tuesday's public consultation, Pelletier said they'll finalize the plan and issue a tender for a construction company to do the work.

Glebe residents have repeatedly expressed concern with how thousands of people will be able to get to Lansdowne Park once it's open, saying they fear traffic issues will be too much of a disruption

'I've been lobbying 25 years'

Some residents said they're glad the crossing is finally being installed, but wonder about the timing.

"I've been lobbying 25 years to get safe crossings," said John Dance, chair of the Old Ottawa East Community Association.

John Dance is the chair of the Old Ottawa East Community Association. (CBC)

"We wrote to Jean Piggot, I don't know how many decades ago she was chair, she said 'We'll look at it soon' so finally this is happening.

"It's really really good, it just took too damn long."

"All you have to do is stand at the corner of Fifth Avenue here or Clegg (Avenue) on the other side and watch all of the cyclists and pedestrians waiting, waiting, waiting," said Capital Ward councillor David Chernushenko.

"I have seen accidents, I have seen near fatalities on it so now you just have to ask 'What took so long?'"

The NCC said it's awaiting funding for its next priority crossing at Colonel By Drive and Clegg Avenue, directly across the Rideau Canal.

Dance said traffic there is heavier than at Queen Elizabeth and Fifth and that a crossing needs to be added there as soon as possible.