City ponders future of downtown bus lanes in age of LRT
City pondering wider sidewalks, more bike lanes along Albert/Slater corridor, Mackenzie King Bridge
The City of Ottawa is looking for input on what to do with dedicated bus lanes on Albert and Slater streets and the Mackenzie King Bridge once light rail is up an running and buses are off the roads.
In a memo to councillors on Monday, transportation services general manager John Manconi said the department is launching a study of the bus corridors with an eye toward enhancing more active modes of travel such as walking and cycling.
"Continuous dedicated bus rapid transit lanes through the downtown will no longer be needed on Albert, Slater and the Mackenzie King Bridge," he wrote. "This provides an opportunity to prepare a plan for the reallocation of this lane space for other uses and functions, while also maintaining today's vehicle capacity."
The study is timed to take advantage of planned road and sewer work scheduled for 2019-20 at the west ends of Albert and Slater streets between Empress Avenue and Bay Street, and on Bronson Avenue between Queen Street and Laurier Avenue.
With light rail scheduled to start service in 2018, many of the buses currently running along Albert and Slater will come off the road, giving the city a chance to redo those western sections in a way that fits with a 2013 transportation master plan that calls for increased pedestrian and cycling traffic targets.
Wider sidewalks needed
The remaining sections of the Albert/Slater corridor east of Bay Street aren't slated for road work anytime soon, so the city also wants to look at possible interim measures.
The study will have to balance a number of competing factors, including the city's plans to add more cycling options and additional spots for parking or taxis, Manconi has told councillors.
An anticipated increase in foot traffic will also be a big factor.
"Some of the highest densities of employees in the downtown are in buildings that front onto Albert and Slater streets," he wrote. "The study will seek opportunities to widen sidewalks, enhance crosswalks and improve the pedestrian and streetscape environment for the tens of thousands of people who will be walking to, and from, the new O-Train Confederation Line transit stations.
"The location of the new Central Library and its access requirements will also influence the outcome of this study," Manconi wrote.
The city plans to consult with OC Transpo, Gatineau's STO bus service, adjacent property owners, the Rideau Centre, major cultural institutions, the National Capital Commission and the federal government as well as walking, cycling and accessibility groups, downtown community associations and other city departments.
The city also plans to share information through a community information session, email, and a dedicated project web page.