On November 15, 2013, the City’s Transportation Committee met to review the draft 2013 Transportation Master Plan which outlines the transportation vision for the City to 2031 and beyond. One item that is always mentioned in these Transportation Master Plans is the need for a solution to the downtown interprovincial truck problem. In the past, that solution has always been listed as a new interprovincial bridge somewhere in the City’s east end. In a surprising move, a motion was tabled and passed at this meeting indicating the City was prepared to commit to funding 50% of a 750,000$ feasibility study for a downtown tunnel (to carry trucks) connecting the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier bridge contingent on the Province of Ontario committing to be a co-funder of the study which is to be led by the City.
This is a welcome move by the City of Ottawa especially in light of the collapse in June 2013 of the initiative to build a new bridge across the Ottawa River. While ASH was a participant in that interprovincial bridge study, ASH had lobbied during the past 5 years that an analysis of a downtown tunnel between the 417 and the existing Macdonald-Cartier bridge should be part of the overall assessment process related to a potential new interprovincial bridge. This was largely because it was becomimg increasingly clear that a new east end bridge would at best be only a partial solution to the downtown truck problem and a solution that required a highly unpopular shifting of trucks into other residential areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. In response, the study partners issued a short memo which discounted a tunnel option claiming that it was not feasible and did not meet the projected 2031 needs to enable more cars to cross the Ottawa River. ASH (as well as other community groups) were never satisfied with the level of analysis that was undertaken as part of that memo.
The Nov 15th motion of the City of Ottawa indicated that the City is now prepared to do a more detailed feasibility analysis of this tunnel option and this is welcomed by ASH. ASH will continue to work with other community groups to express our support for this initiative and to encourage the Province of Ontario to respond by joining as a co-funder with the City’s initiative.
More information about the downtown truck problem and potential solutions: