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Ottawa drops one transit line, issues plans for others

A task force has unveiled plans for a region-wide light rail transit plan for Ottawa. The plan, released June 6, ad...


A task force has unveiled plans for a region-wide light rail transit plan for Ottawa. The plan, released June 6, advocates using existing rail corridors and rights of way. The first phase, to be built by 2017, is estimated to cost less than $900 million, including $450 million for a downtown tunnel.
Ironically, the new regional plan was announced just before Siemens and construction company PCL/Dufferin filed a lawsuit against the City of Ottawa for damages incurred over the cancelling of a contract to build a north-south light rail line in the city.
Ottawa had awarded the Siemens/PCL/Dufferin consortium a $778-million contract to design, build and maintain a north-south light rail line which was to run from Barrhaven to the University of Ottawa.However, the contract was cancelled in December after a new mayor, Larry O’Brien was elected. Siemens and PCL/Dufferin want $175 million in compensation.
The hub of the latest proposed regional plan would be Union Station opposite the Chateau Laurier Hotel. The station was decommissioned as a transit station years ago and is currently a conference centre.
The light rail system would be underground in the downtown area, and travel out to the Ottawa International Airport. Each light rail transit station would be a hub for short local bus routes. By 2037 the system would have expansions to Arnprior, Wakefield, Masson and Carleton Place. There would be a new bridge to Gatineau built east of downtown, while the Prince of Wales Bridge west of LeBreton Flats would be opened to rail freight. Initially the trains would run on diesel, switching to electrical power in the downtown tunnel.
The task force panel that recommended the regional plan was led by former transport Minister David Collenette. According to a CBC report, Ottawa councillors are just starting to study the ideas and implementing them will mean dealing issues over funding, jurisdictions and engineering.