For decades the City of Ottawa has listed as one of its top priority new road projects a corridor joining Conroy Road at Walkley, through an empty corridor north of the Ottawa Hospital connecting to a re-designed interchange of Nicholas Avenue at the Queensway. A coalition (Citizens for Healthy Communities) was formed in the early 2000‟s including representatives from Sandy Hill to oppose this on the basis of the number of new additional cars it would dump into the downtown area and the fact that it is now extremely rare for municipalities to be building major new arterial roads leading into their downtown cores. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common to implement measures that constrain the flow of additional automobiles into downtown cores.
The coalition felt any such transportation investments were much better spent on new transit initiatives. The City of Ottawa began public consultations towards a “Class” environmental assessment (EA) for the construction of this road in 2001. The coalition opposed to this road appealed to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment that a “Class” category of EA was inadequate for this project and should be subjected to a more rigorous process (bump-up request). In January of 2008 the Ontario Ministry of the Environment denied this “bump-up” request. After the completion of the Class EA, residents were successful in getting agreement from the City that the construction of the road should be split into 3 phases and that Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the road would not be built until 2 more reviews of the Transportation Master Plan were completed (2008 and 2013).
The main impact this road would have on Sandy Hill would occur with the 2nd phase which is a new bridge across the Rideau River tied into a re-designed Nicholas/417 interchange. The new interchange design would be more like other 417 interchanges such as the Vanier Parkway with traffic lights on both the north and south sides of the 417 controlling access on and off the highway in both directions. The presence of the new bridge across the Rideau enables a significant increase of cars able to drive from the south end of the City up to the Nicholas/Laurier intersection. It is rather unclear how it could be possible to move more cars through this intersection (especially for the critical turn movement to and from the downtown) at the peak hour than what it already can support!! This is all the more the case considering that since an extra lane was added to the 417 east in 2018, there will be the potential for a significant increase in the volume of cars that can exit the 417WB onto Nicholas.
In the 2012 City budget, funding of 54m$ was allocated for phase 1 of the AVC (in addition to 10m$ previously allocated and not yet spent), often referred to as the “Hospital Link”. This road is a 1.2 km connection from Riverside Dr into the north side of the Ottawa Hospital complex and would form the middle section of the 3 sections of the road. The main reason for building Phase 1 was been given as reducing the traffic pressures on Smyth road/Riverside Dr leading into the hospital. Other reasons that were sometimes quoted were to reduce the traffic levels on Alta Vista Dr and to prepare the way for a new housing development on the current site of the NDMC (National Defence Medical Centre) lands. The extremely high cost was due to the fact that it required an overpass over Riverside Dr, a realignment of the current lanes of Riverside Dr, a 2nd overpass over the Transitway, and an underpass under the CN rail line.
The design of this Hospital Link corresponds exactly with Phase 1 of the proposed AVC and it is difficult to understand how the City could contemplate spending such a large amount of money on what became merely a „driveway‟ to the back door of the hospital unless they were intending to eventually implement the complete roadway over the Rideau River and into Sandy Hill at the Nicholas/417 interchange.
The AltaVista Corridor Phase 1 – Hospital Link was constructed between 2016 and 2018 at a final cost of 75m$ and opened to traffic in 2018. It serves no other purpose other than to provide an access to the rear of the General Hospital from Riverside Dr.
During the 2013 update of the Transportation Master Plan the future phases 2 and 3 of the AVC were de-prioritized and listed as post-2031 projects that were outside of the forseeable affordable road network plans.
The subject of phases 2 and 3 of the roadway will again be hotly debated during the next update of the transportation master plan in 2021-2024.
Last Updated: 28-Sept-2012