The proposed downtown tunnel alignment that puts a station near Rideau Street and Colonel By Drive would be detrimental to the economic stability of the area, business representatives told the city’s transit committee yesterday.

Rideau Centre general manager Cindy VanBuskirk told the committee that the proposed Rideau Street tunnel alignment would move all regional and express transit traffic from Mackenzie King Bridge and eliminate most of the pedestrian traffic to the second and third floors of the mall.

VanBuskirk said the Rideau Centre currently tracks around 400,000 visitor per week or 20 million people per year.

“Putting all of that pedestrian movement at the north end of our building does nothing to support the retail on the second and third levels and in (a) multi-level non-traditional mall,” she said, “we need — demand — generators at both ends of the building.”

Downtown Rideau Street BIA executive director Peggy DuCharme said the area was already stretched to capacity for transit. She said more traffic would jeopardize the street’s ability to remain accessible to all modes of transportation.

“Rideau Street is a main street, but you would never know it by the demand of transit that is being focused on it,” DuCharme said.

“However, since the rapid transit buses would no longer be using Mackenzie King Bridge, local and interprovincial buses could then move to the north,” said deputy city manager of infrastructure services Nancy Schepers, which would relieve the congestion on Rideau Street.

VanBuskirk said the arrangement was not ideal, but she was open to discussing it.

The city staff recommended alignment for the 3.2-kilometre tunnel would begin west of Bronson and run underneath Albert Street then shift south to Queen Street before turning north after Rideau Street and coming back to the surface near Mann Avenue.

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