mi-ottawa-buses

The addition of more OC Transpo buses on Scott and Albert has raised concerns about pedestrian and commuter safety. (Paul Morisset/CBC)

Scott and Albert Streets will be able to handle the added traffic when OC Transpo buses are diverted from the Transitway to those roads in 2016 as part of the city's light rail plan, according to a report prepared by Rideau Transit Group (RTG).

The city plans to take the western portion of the Transitway offline beginning in 2016 to convert it into a light rail line, and it's proposing to widen Scott and Albert streets — from Holland Avenue to the west and Empress Avenue to the east — to accommodate the additional traffic.

The city's plans call for two of four traffic lanes from Holland to Empress to be converted to transit-only lanes while work is being done on the Transitway.

In a report tabled to the transportation committee in advance of next week's meeting, RTG — the company overseeing the project — predicted when the detour is in place, buses would represent about 10 to 15 per cent of total vehicle traffic during the busiest eight hours of an average weekday.

The report also found the existing pedestrian infrastructure "more than adequate to accommodate the current amount of pedestrians along this corridor," deputy city manager Nancy Schepers wrote in an accompanying note

Schepers said Thursday she's pleased with the findings.

"I think the conclusions out of that are that the detour itself is well designed and includes many features that contribute to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and all users."

Among the features of RTG's plans are three additional crosswalks, separate on-street cycling lanes and new multi-use pathways designed to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the area.

The city also received an independent safety audit of the plans, which found on the whole the city's plans represent "good design practices."

RTG disagrees with 2 recommendations

BT Engineering made many recommendations to improve safety on Scott and Albert during the transition, most of which RTG agreed with.

But it did not support two recommendations.

The first was BTE's recommendation RTG and the city consider how local bus stops along the route will impact the express bus speeds, and suggests all buses will be delayed at peak times because high volumes won't permit easy lane changes.

It also suggested the local bus stops would conflict with the eastbound bike lane.

RTG responded, saying there are only four local buses per hour, so any delay would be minimal. As for the bike lanes, RTG said buses turn into stops adjacent to on-street bike lanes citywide.

Not everyone is satisfied with RTG's plans for Scott and Albert, though.

Catherine McKenney, a candidate for city council and spokeswoman for a group that conducted its own safety audit, said she was disappointed to see there are no improvements planned for the sidewalk on the south side of Albert near Preston.

"There's absolutely no buffer, no barrier, nothing to separate what is a very narrow sidewalk from that first lane of buses," said McKenney.

Schepers invites residents to bring their ideas forward when the detailed design is revealed in June.

Construction work on the Albert Street portion of the future detour, City Centre to Empress Avenue, could begin as early as this month. In late 2015, work will begin on Scott Street from Tunney’s Pasture to Bayview Road to widen the roadway.

On mobile? Click here to read note to committee from Nancy Schepers.

On mobile? Click here to read BTE's safety audit.

On mobile? Click here to read RTG's response to safety audit.

On mobile? Click here to read RTG's safety review of bus detours