Ottawa

Mayors rule out Prince of Wales Bridge for transit link

The Prince of Wales Bridge will never carry trains again, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau declared Tuesday, asking the next federal government to help them turn it into a cycling connection instead.

The bridge should be cyclist and pedestrian connection, mayors say

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson at the Prince of Wales Bridge, which they now want to see converted into a pedestrian and cyclist access. (Kate Porter/CBC)

The Prince of Wales Bridge will never carry trains again, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau declared Tuesday, asking the next federal government to help them turn it into a cycling connection instead. 

Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday afternoon the bridge is not the right choice for a light rail transit connection. 

"It would congest too much Bayview station and secondly Gatineau has been pursuing their LRT project and they too have ruled it out as a bridge that would be used for transit," he said.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin agreed. 

"The studies that have been conducted in the last few months are very clear, the Prince of Wales Bridge could not be used for the connection between Ottawa and Gatineau," he said, adding they believe the Portage Bridge is the best place to connect the two communities.  

The City of Ottawa owns the Ottawa River span near Bayview station and purchased it for $400,000 in the mid 2000's with the goal of turning it into a railway bridge.

Watson said city staff recognize the earlier investment, but it still doesn't make sense as a transit connection. 

Both mayors are hoping the federal government will step in and help fund an estimated $10 million in work to turn the bridge into a pedestrian and cycling crossing. The bridge is currently a frequent target of trespassers and the city has spent funds to fence the entrance. 

Liberal candidates in the region pledged earlier in the campaign to push for the funding. 

The city originally planned for a rail line to be extended across this bridge, but Watson said that plan is no longer viable. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Other demands 

In addition to asking for funds for the Prince of Wales Bridge, the two mayors want federal parties to commit to continued funding for transit, social housing and infrastructure.

Climate change was also top of mind. Pedneaud-Jobin said the floods and tornadoes that have hit the region in the last few years have been a major challenge, one they can't afford to pay for out of municipal coffers. 

He said the federal government also needs large cities to make real progress on climate change.  

"You can't make the environment better without cities," he said. "The federal government can not tackles its challenges without us." 

with files from Kate Porter/CBC

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