Future western LRT extension gets committee's OK
LRT line from Moodie Drive to Hazeldean Road expected to cost $1.85B, won't come until after 2031
UPDATE | City council unanimously approved the environmental assessment of the western extension on May 9.
Light rail trains could someday glide above the rooftops of new neighbourhoods in Stittsville and Kanata after the Ottawa's transportation committee approved a $1.85 billion route for a future west-end LRT extension, including a section of elevated track.
The 11-kilometre extension would run along the Queensway from Moodie Drive to Terry Fox, through residential neighbourhoods to Campeau Drive. From there the line would be elevated, much like Vancouver's SkyTrain, skirting the Canadian Tire Centre to Hazeldean Road.
There's no budget to build the line, and it likely won't be constructed until after 2031, but Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson told committee it is "desperately needed."
"As soon as the rail gets to Moodie, right away they should be getting it out to Terry Fox," Wilkinson said.
Employment hubs left off preferred route
The city studied 13 possible routes through ever-expanding Kanata and Stittsville, and found the one travelling alongside the Queensway would be the most efficient and have the highest ridership.
That means two major employment centres — the Department of National Defence on Moodie Drive and the Kanata North business park — will not be directly served by train.
City staff studied the possibility of running rail to those areas, but found potential ridership there didn't justify the added expense and additional travel time.
"What we've ended up doing is getting the most direct route that can bring it as close as possible to most of the population," Wilkinson said.
The city will be able to install other transportation links to those centres, Wilkinson said, which could include buses or even self-driving cars — an indication of how far into the future the city is planning the LRT extension.
Coun.Diane Deans questioned the financial wisdom of the project given its $1.85-billion price.
Staff factored cost into the design of the route, but said they didn't consider affordability because that's considered a political decision.
Deans asked staff to provide ridership projection for the new route to compare to existing bus ridership in the area. That information will be released before council gives final approval next week.