Carling on-ramp closure raises concerns

Ottawa city councillors are concerned about the province's plan to close a Queensway on-ramp behind the Westgate Shopping Centre.

Proposal also includes new concrete median on Carling at Kirkwood to keep cars from turning left

The Ministry of Transportation on Ontario is proposing to close the on-ramp to the eastbound Highway 417 from Carling Avenue. (Google Earth)

Ottawa city councillors are concerned about the province's plan to close a Queensway on-ramp behind the Westgate Shopping Centre.

The MTO presented plans to the city's transportation committee on Wednesday about permanently closing the Carling 417 on-ramp.

Its plan is to re-route the 3,900 drivers who take the ramp daily, in order to add a fourth lane on the highway and give the other eastbound ramp a proper run-up to merge with traffic.

The area's councillor, Riley Brockington, says he's never been convinced the ministry needs to close that on-ramp, and was originally concerned it was using old traffic data.

He's worried traffic could start to cut through communities, a concern echoed by the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association.

The Civic Hospital association's president, Karen Wright, is worried about the ramp closure and big development changes coming to Carling Avenue between Kirkwood and Bronson, including RioCan's three-stage redevelopment planned for Westgate Shopping Centre, and the new Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital planned for a site near Dow's Lake.

Plan to get rid of dicey merge beside Hampton Park Plaza

Meanwhile, the MTO's consultants laid out changes to how traffic merges on Carling Avenue, north of the Queensway.

Drivers who exit westbound beside Hampton Park Plaza will have experienced the complicated weaving that takes place as some drivers try to make lane changes to turn south onto Kirkwood.

The MTO wants to put in a new concrete median forcing traffic to continue past Kirkwood and loop back around.

3,900 drivers who use the east-bound on-ramp behind the Westgate Shopping Centre would be redirected once it closes. (MMM Group and WSP Engineering)

Brockington also raised concerns about how pedestrians and cyclists make a "rare", somewhat dangerous, crossing of the highway off-ramp near the strip mall.

The MTO's consultant said it's up to pedestrians to yield to the vehicles coming off the Queensway, and that it's not the ministry's policy to paint crossing markers on the ramp, but allows the crossing at the city's request.

The next step is for the consultants, MMM Group and WSP, to do a transportation environmental study report.

The $200 million widening of the 417 between Maitland and the 416 interchange is anticipated to take place in tandem with with the city's second phase of its light rail project, which is to begin construction in 2018.

The public consultation period on the 417 changes closes today.