Ottawa

Rideau Street ready for its big reveal

Ottawa's Rideau Street is set to reopen Saturday after five years under construction, and the local city councillor says when it does, the downtown strip will have a whole new look and feel. 

After 5 years of construction and a massive sinkhole, downtown strip reopens Saturday

Rideau Street has remained largely closed to vehicular traffic since 2015. The area's councillor says when it reopens on Dec. 19, it should feel more pedestrian-friendly with wider sidewalks and fewer buses. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Ottawa's Rideau Street is set to reopen Saturday after five years under construction, and the local city councillor says when it does, the downtown strip will have a whole new look and feel. 

"It's going to be a slower street, which will make it more enticing for everyone," said Coun. Mathieu Fleury. "You don't have a Transitway feeling that Rideau used to have prior to the closure."

The section of Rideau Street between Sussex Drive and Dalhousie Street has remained largely off limits to vehicles since 2015, when it was closed for renovations to the Rideau Centre and construction of a new light rail station.

The following year, a massive sinkhole swallowed a parked van and three lanes of traffic, causing yet more work. The surface has since undergone a significant streetscaping project.

In June 2016, a sinkhole appeared on Rideau Street near Sussex Drive, swallowing a parked van and three lanes of traffic. (Jeremie Bergeron/Radio-Canada)

'We're even hoping for patios'

When Rideau reopens Saturday at 2 p.m., there will be just two lanes of traffic instead of four, with special bays for OC Transpo buses to pick up and drop off passengers, said Fleury.

There will also be separated bike lanes, which the city plans to connect to other cycling routes in the future, plus more trees and expansive sidewalks — in some areas as wide as 10 metres.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury says local businesses along Rideau Street hope to install patios this summer. (Radio-Canada)

"It will open this winter, but we'll get the full benefit of the final streetscaping and those improvements when all is in place in the spring," said Fleury.

Pedestrians may notice an increase in car traffic but far fewer buses, since the LRT has replaced many of the OC Transpo's downtown routes and STO buses no longer use Rideau Street.

With that, Fleury said, the street should be less noisy and feel more welcoming. 

"We're even hoping for patios along the corridor," he said. 

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