In 2003, the Ontario Ministry of Transport (MTO) completed a detailed environmental assessment for the addition of a fourth lane in each direction to the Queensway starting from Metcalfe Street moving eastward as far as Walkley Road. This project also included some modifications to existing Queensway ramps at Lees, Bronson, Parkdale, etc to improve satefy. Like the Alta Vista Corridor (AVC) a coalition of citizen’s groups (City Centre Coalition) opposed to this initiative appealed to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE) that this was not a typical “Highway expansion class” of environmental assessment and should be “bumped-up” to a more rigorous review process. In January 2008 the MoE ruled that a more rigorous “Individual EA” would not be needed and formally approved this environmental assessment for widening the Queensway.
In Feb 2010, a formal notice of expropriation was issued to homeowners living nearby the Parkdale Ave westbound off-ramp and those houses were subsequently demolished (i.e. the ramp modifications for safety improvements) were going ahead. During the preliminary design phases for Ottawa’s east-west LRT system, the City of Ottawa entered into discussions with the Ontario Ministry of Transport regarding alternative routing for OC Transpo buses during the period that the Transitway will be shut down for conversion to rail (2016-2018 timeframe). The Ministry of Transport had indicated that it could be possible for newly constructed lanes on the Queensway to be dedicated to buses during this time period and committed to completing the 417 lane expansion as far east as the Aviation Parkway before the 2015 timeframe. The estimated cost of this expansion is in the range of 150m$.
During much of the 2012-2015 construction period, the EB on-ramp from Lees Ave to the 417WB will be closed (in order for this area to be used for construction staging purposes). Also it is anticipated that at some point during construction there will be a 3 month period where the Lees Ave overpass will be unavailable while it is being replaced.
We are not convinced that such a highway expansion project is in the best interest of Sandy Hill or the City of Ottawa as a whole. At best this several hundred million dollar project would simply enable 5,000-10,000 additional east end commuters to reach their central destinations a few minutes faster during a 1-2 hour period in the morning and afternoon. The rest of the 20 hour daily period the extra lanes will serve no particularly useful purpose. Better to use several hundred million dollars to improve the public transportation system where it will provide new incremental benefits to citizens all day long. It is ironic that the main reason cited at this time for the 417 east lane expansion is to support Ottawa’s premiere Light Rail Project. It is also ironic that when the Light Rail Line opens, the new lanes on the 417 will then be released for general commuter traffic and the incentive to use the Light Rail system to avoid congestion on the 417 will be greatly reduced!
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Last Updated: 25-Jun-2012