Rail-only option could mean tunnel sooner: Group

Ottawa’s transit plans may be arriving ahead of schedule.

Although city staff won’t yet confirm, there’s speculation a light-rail train-only tunnel will be presented as Ottawa’s downtown transit option on April 16, meaning work could begin soon after a six-month environmental assessment, said David Jeanes, president of Transport 2000.


“I think around 2011 would be an ambitious goal to have it opened,” said Jeanes.

The city had planned to spend two years studying whether buses would be feasible for a downtown tunnel, but transit groups had denounced that option as too expensive, saying a bus tunnel would have to be wider for passing lanes and employ a more complex system to vent exhaust.

But if the city has removed the bus option from the debate, it could now hasten the process, Jeanes said.

David Gladstone, with Friends of the O-Train, said there are no examples of working bus tunnels in the world, while there are many cities with light-rail tunnels.

“(The city) wanted buses to be an option,” Gladstone said, “(but) if they actually decided on a train-only tunnel and a six-month assessment, I would be very pleasantly surprised. It would be a great breakthrough.”

Coun. Clive Doucet said that whatever tunnel goes in, it must be built to last over a century and a bus tunnel is not a good option.


subway-less in Seattle

  • Coun. Clive Doucet just returned from a trip to Seattle, Washington, where he said the city had spent $15 million to replace a bus tunnel with light rail.

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