Portage Bridge work to close lanes this summer

Expect lane closures on the Portage Bridge this summer while crews work to repair its pavement and improve its bike lanes.

NCC opts for 2-way segregated bike lane as part of $9.2M bridge resurfacing project

Revellers cross the Portage Bridge to Gatineau on Canada Day 2017. Roadwork on the bridge could make for a more difficult crossing this summer. ( Estelle Cote-Sroka/Radio-Canada)

Expect lane closures on the Portage Bridge this summer while crews work to repair its pavement and install a two-way segregated bike lane.

The National Capital Commission's board of directors on Thursday approved the $9.2-million budget to improve the interprovincial bridge, located just west of Parliament Hill. 

The road surface on the bridge, which spans the Ottawa River and connects Wellington Street in Ottawa to rue Laurier in Gatineau, is in "poor condition" with multiple cracks and ruts, according to an NCC report.

The NCC is hoping to have a construction contract awarded by the end of June, and finish most of the work by the end of August. Staff said the bridge won't ever be shut down completely, but will at times be reduced to one lane in each direction.

Cycling 'terrifying'

One NCC board member, Sara Jane O'Neill of Ottawa, said she cycles across the Portage Bridge, an experience she described as "terrifying." She was pleased to hear the NCC is planning to install a physical barrier between the new, slightly wider cycling lanes and the road.

O'Neill was concerned that the bridge would be closed to cyclists during the summer months, when the bike lanes are more heavily used by both residents and tourists.

But NCC staff said the plan is to direct all bicycle traffic to the eastern sidewalk, while pedestrians will be told to use the western sidewalk.

The NCC hasn't yet decided whether the bike lanes will be elevated to the level of the sidewalk — a few directors argued against it — but the board unanimously approved the separated lanes, which are expected to cost about $2.2 million, included in the project's overall cost.

The Portage Bridge, which opened in 1973, will be due for major reconstruction in another 10 to 25 years, the NCC said. 

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  • CBC incorrectly attributed Sara Jane O'Neill's comments in a previous version of this story.
    Apr 19, 2018 7:38 PM ET