Kettle Island is still technically the best place to build a new bridge over the Ottawa River, but the final recommendation, released yesterday by consulting firm ROCHE-NCE, said public pressure has resulted in a detailed environmental assessment of the site for the next phase.

“This study will explain how effects on the environment will be reduced,” said the report written for the National Capital Commission and the transportation ministries of Ontario and Quebec.

However, the term “environment” refers not just to the natural environment, but also to the socio-economic and cultural environments and includes such issues as traffic, noise and vibration, air quality, fisheries, botanical, archeological heritage, property impact and landscaping along the corridors leading up to the bridge, said Steve Taylor, project manager for the study at ROCHE-NCE.

“There are still some issues along this corridor,” Taylor said. “But it’s our advice that all those issues can be mitigated. There’s still a lot of work to be done. The design isn’t finalized.”

The potential site at Kettle Island was announced in September, followed by public consultations with 931 people at two events. In total, 1,688 submissions were made, with comments also received via letters, website and telephone. Due to that public input, the final report includes the promise to investigate ways to enhance the environment “to receive the appropriate approvals and meet legislative requirements.”

But it will be about three years before that step is complete.

The report will be presented to the Ottawa and Gatineau city councils later this month, Taylor said.

The report assessed 10 potential crossing sites for a bridge, tunnel or ferry, concluding that a bridge at Kettle Island is the best option.

The study recommends increasing transit ridership, installing sidewalks and bike lanes on the new bridge and existing bridges to increase walking and cycling, and improvements to existing bridges so they can take more vehicles.