Baseline bus rapid transit corridor design gets council's OK

Ottawa city council has approved a plan that could see a $140-million transit corridor along Heron and Baseline roads start construction in 2020.

Plan involves expropriation of 15 properties, partial expropriation of 200 more

A rendering of the Baseline Road Rapid Transit Corridor with a station on the median. The cost of the first phase of the project is pegged at about $140 million. (City of Ottawa)

Ottawa city council has unanimously approved a proposal to build a cross-town rapid transit corridor along Baseline and Heron roads.

The new transit corridor would see 24 new stations built about 600 metres apart, and would eventually connect Heron Station near Billings Bridge to Bayshore Shopping Centre.

Construction on the first, $140-million stretch between Heron Station and Baseline Station at Algonquin College could begin in 2020 if funding from the provincial and federal governments comes through. The portion of the corridor from Baseline to Bayshore stations is not being considered until after 2031.

Roads to be widened

The proposal calls for bus lanes to run down the centre of the road, with two vehicle lanes on either side, as well as cycling lanes and sidewalks.

To incorporate all that traffic, the city will need to widen the road. Fifteen properties will need to be completely expropriated and another 200 partially expropriated, and a strip along the southern edge of the Central Experimental Farm will also be given over to the project.

Local residents have voiced concerns about the plans, including that the stations will be too far apart for seniors. Councillors have already directed staff to plan for "safe resting areas for pedestrians of all abilities."

Council also approved an additional station at St. Helen's Place, just west of Merivale Road, which will be incorporated in the existing budget.

Council voted Wednesday in favour of the design of the corridor, and gave the go-ahead for an environmental assessment. The $140 million needed for the project has not yet been committed.