Wheels of Justice? Not on the Albert Street Transitway Detour

Wheels of Justice? Not on the Albert Street Transitway Detour

Ottawa has started the biggest infrastructure project in its history, and it’s happening in our backyard! CCOC has about 110 homes in the Lebreton Flats area – bordered by Booth, Albert, Rochester and Primrose Streets. We’ve got a couple of century old buildings, along with townhomes and an apartment building that we built in 1981, that are home to students, seniors, couples and families.

The Confederation Line light rail transit project, including the downtown Ottawa tunnel, will transform the way people move around the city. We’re excited about the new transit options, and we’re expectantly hoping that it will spark the development of a new community of neighbours on the vacant NCC lands to the north of Albert Street. We’d love to see a grocery store, shops and services, and we’ve been promised that Albert Street will be improved with slimmer lanes, shorter crossings, better sidewalks, green buffers, cycling paths and trees.

Right now, Albert Street is a busy, wide four lane commuter road – not a friendly place to walk or bike. And since only 40% of CCOC tenants have cars, most tenants experience Albert Street without the protection of a car between them and the elements.

To date, it looks like the next few years will be terrible. While the Transitway is being converted for use by light rail, the city and the Rideau Transit Group are proposing the Albert Street Transitway Detour. The roadway will be widened to six lanes, and up to three hundred buses will pass by our homes every hour. This will last at least two years.

Sidewalks that are already unpleasant during rush hour will become unbearable, with bumper to bumper buses, constant noise and vibration and much, much more pollution. Crosswalks that are already dangerous will become unusable as people fight with cars and buses for right to the roadways. Bedroom windows in homes on Albert Street will have to stay closed to try to keep out the noise and pollution.

When it is over, we are very worried that the promise to restore Albert Street with a bigger green buffer, wider sidewalks and new bike lanes will be forgotten. It will be very hard to convince the city and the Rideau Transit Group to reduce a road after they’ve already widened it – it goes against their way of thinking.

That is not a reasonable sacrifice for residents. We know that the project needs to happen, and we’re glad to see the city moving ahead with better transit. But the impact on residents could be reduced with a few strokes of a road engineer’s pen. The wider sidewalks, the cycling lanes and the green buffer could be installed first, before the buses come. Special attention could be given to make sure that pedestrians have safe passage at crosswalks. The barest quality of life could be safeguarded. If the wheels of justice turn like the wheels of all the buses on Albert Street, then our tenants won’t be driven from their homes.