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CBC Ottawa

Ring road ruckus

Jim Watson has a few issues with Larry O'Brien's traffic management plan. But it looks like the biggest bur under his saddle is the mayor's ring road proposal. According to O'Brien's plan:

"Ottawa has been debating a ring road since the 1950s when it was included in Jacques Gréber's plan for the national capital. Planning, reviewing and constructing a major highway such as this takes close to twenty years, so Mayor O'Brien will get that planning underway. This proposed road will reduce commute times for residents in outer communities as well as reduce traffic through the downtown core."

Watson has a different take on it. Here's some of what he had to say to a group of seniors this morning:

"Once you look at this you quickly realize that this transportation plan is a throw-back to the 1970's where highways ruled the day and urban sprawl was left unchecked. Mr. O'Brien's plan calls for a billion-dollar highway that would literally exiscerate the Greenbelt. Off-ramps would be added, we'd add to urban sprawl, and massive costs would be shouldered by the taxpayers. The plan is not really a plan at all, it is a wish list."

Following last night's Ecology Ottawa debate, O'Brien told me he wants to start working closely with the province and the NCC to start planning "Highway 418." He also said he's talked with Bob Chiarelli -- before Chiarelli became infrastructure minister -- about the ring road idea, and that Chiarelli "believed the ring road was something that should get back into the planning process."

We just talked to Chiarelli, and he recalls the conversation a bit differently. He says the province's funding priority remains public transit, and a ring road around Ottawa wouldn't be on his government's radar for at least 20 years.

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