Dreessen: Put roads on a diet and expand transit in Ottawa instead


Don’t blame the developers for how poorly built suburban communities are today. They are just following city guidelines.

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Ottawa has road problems.

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Decades of underinvestment in affordable public transportation, coupled with the continued expansion of car-dependent suburban communities and the housing price crisis, have led to communities being built outside the Greenbelt. result. These are some of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the city.

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This growth is supported by the city council and staff, and is part of a “qualification drive” for affordable housing.

Developers are taking significant financial risks to provide affordable housing for families, combined with developed land for new parks, shopping, schools and other social infrastructure, following city guidance. Plan your community. We could complain about this, but they follow the rules and provide the essential options for housing we need.

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But these decisions affect generations. Building communities with inadequate transportation and insufficient road capacity impedes people’s ability to move around the wider city.

Consider widening the airport parkway. The city has committed billions of dollars to extending and improving the Trillium Line South rail line to improve transit access. The concept of induced demand suggests that widening roads does not help congestion. With the planned renovation of the South Quay shopping plaza and more housing in the southern Ottawa community, the addition of lanes will undermine public transit investment.

The proposed design effectively creates a four-lane split highway. This puts more vehicles on the already overloaded Bronson Avenue, which has absolutely no room for expansion. Does it make sense to add upstream capacity if the downstream outlet remains fixed?

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At the eastern end there is a growing community around the village of Navan. Massive developments have provided housing for hundreds of families, but the associated transport infrastructure has grown poorly. Brian Coburn Boulevard and his $8 million park-and-ride on Navan Road are largely unused due to inadequate and unreliable transportation services. Stage 2 of the LRT will improve traffic to the northern end of the Orléans, but will have little impact on growth south of Innes Road.

Drivers use Navarn Road, a narrow, decades-old country road with two lanes. Built in the 1980s to accommodate Orléans’ traffic demands, the Blackburn Bypass crossing is regularly congested during short peak periods. Blair station does not have a park and ride, and highway 417 is easily accessible from Inns, so taking transit instead is a tough argument.

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Multiple options have been suggested. The current frontrunner, dubbed ‘Option 7’, proposes a new multi-lane, divided, limited-access parkway along and through the edge of Mer Bleue Bog. Managed by the State Capital Board, this land is important for the environmental health of the marshes. NCC has indicated that it does not support this option.

It might make more sense to improve Navan Road, build a dedicated bus lane from Brian Coburn’s Park and Ride to the Blair LRT station, and make sure traffic is frequent and reliable. The induced demand suggests that seeing a bus approaching quickly while sitting in traffic may prompt more drivers to abandon their vehicles. doing.

In both examples, we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in design and construction costs. Both projects involve additional millions of dollars in annual costs for snow removal and other maintenance. Both are trying to solve the perceived short-lived congestion problem during peak commuting hours. If we want to do both and maintain moderate tax rates, there are social costs of housing, cultural and community spaces, parks, or other sustainability investments.

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It’s never too late to:

• The community should be complete by implementing a network that allows walking, access and biking within the community so that services and daily needs can be accessed within a 15-minute community. .

• Mobility within the community needs to be improved.

• Transportation connectivity from the community to the LRT should be improved.

Otherwise, you are choosing to throw yourself into the cost of gradually improving the lives of a few people by cutting minutes or seconds off your commute. We deprive cities of a sustainable future and perpetuate outdated growth plans.

View Driesen President of Architects DCA.

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