Portage Bridge best choice for main transit link, STO says

The Prince of Wales Bridge has "little potential" to link the transit networks in Gatineau, Que. and Ottawa, according to a study.

Report stated Prince of Wales Bridge has 'little potential' except as secondary hub

The Portage Bridge is a more preferred option to link Société de transport de l'Outaouais and OC Transpo transit networks, according to a study presented by the STO Tuesday. (Radio-Canada)

The Portage Bridge is the most promising option and the Prince of Wales Bridge has "little potential" to link the transit networks in Gatineau, Que. and Ottawa, according to a study presented by the Société de transport de l'Outaouais.

In a presentation Tuesday, the STO said the Portage Bridge would provide better service to downtown Gatineau, and would also allow the agency to drop off its users at Ottawa's downtown Lyon or Parliament stations, which may have more capacity. 

The study, conducted by Quebec engineering firm WSP Global, found that linking the STO with OC Transpo's light rail at Bayview station via the Prince of Wales Bridge is not recommended as a main link.

That's because there would be limited space on the trains heading downtown as many will already be filled by users from Ottawa's west end, the report said. 

"[The Prince of Wales Bridge] has little potential to be used as a main link, but remains relevant as a secondary link, as provided for in the Ottawa Transportation Plan," the report said. 

Cities will work together, STO says 

The study analyzed each of the bridges linking Gatineau and Ottawa. The criteria for their assessments were based on bridge condition, downtown service and light rail docking.

"The bridge that was approached from the start was the Prince of Wales Bridge," Marc Rousseau, the general manager of the STO, said in a French interview with Radio-Canada.

"It has been eliminated for us from a structural point of view because Bayview Station cannot accommodate us."

The report did not get into detail on how the Portage Bridge would handle train traffic. (CBC)

STO President Myriam Nadeau acknowledged Tuesday the City of Ottawa has long been considering the Prince of Wales Bridge as a main link.

She said despite the divergence of views, the two municipalities are working together.

"It is no surprise to Ottawa today that this is the case with Prince of Wales," she said in French.

"We, on the other hand, want to ensure that the people west of Gatineau have the best possible connection to get to Ottawa … Everyone is around the table and everyone is making these observations."

Main link not yet chosen 

Ultimately, the various levels of government will have to agree to secure future bus, light rail and/or streetcar services on both sides of the river.

The document presented on Tuesday points out that various scenarios are being studied in western Gatineau, including an all-bus, all-rail or a hybrid network. 

The Prince of Wales Bridge over the Ottawa River just west of the city's core in May 2018. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The document also referenced the growing travel needs in the region.

It mentioned that the road network has already been at capacity since 2014 and predicted a significant deterioration in travel conditions from population growth, employment, real estate projects, travel and infrastructure demand.

Public consultations are scheduled on June 3 and 24.