A slightly plumped up “Option Four” stayed on the rails yesterday, with city council rolling out conditional rail lines farther east and south to finalize Ottawa’s new regional transit plan.

Extended light rail lines to Barrhaven and Place d’Orleans are the new components of a plan approved by a 19-4 vote yesterday, but otherwise it remains the same long-range transit strategy approved by a committee earlier this month.

Mayor Larry O’Brien said the completed system will trim a quarter hour off the average transit commuter’s ride and provide an economic boost for Ottawa. The first phase of the plan is projected to cost $4 billion.

The priority for the plan will be to build light rail from Baseline Station following the Transitway, through a downtown tunnel, and west to Blair Road. The plan also calls to twin the O-Train line and extend it to Riverside South, before building tracks outside the Greenbelt.

The key downtown tunnel will not be complete for a decade, according to Ottawa’s head of transit planning, Vivi Chi, and conversion of the Transitway will likely not begin until after the tunnel is complete.

The city’s near-term dependence on buses was a sticking point for Capital ward Coun. Clive Doucet, who was one of four to vote against the plan.

“I’m convinced that people in Ottawa will see no sign of a train for eight to 10 years, but there will be lots more buses.”

Coun. Rick Chiarelli (College ward) also voted against it because he could not see any evidence showing the city could pay for such a plan. But Coun. Diane Holmes (Somerset) said people should look beyond the cost because, at this stage in the planning, the numbers are uncertain.

“If the numbers do come in higher than projected, like they did with the previous plan, it just means it will take us longer to build it,” she said. “There is no way to know anything for certain before the environmental assessments in the fall.”


Latest From ...