‘Ottawa’ Two-year Elgin Street Construction Endorsed by city Transportation Committee
Ottawa council’s transportation committee on Wednesday approved a trimmed-down Elgin Street with wider sidewalks and a significant decrease in the speed limit when the commercial strip reopens after construction.
There were only three deputations and all were generally in favour of the plan proposed by transportation staff, even though the city was challenged to please all stakeholders.
Two business owners made deputations and both seemed satisfied that the city will make sure construction is finished as quickly as possible.
“There is going to be pain,” Maclarens owner Brian Karam said. “The main issue is, can we minimize that pain and save the businesses?”
Karam, who was representing a large group of Elgin Street businesses, said the construction schedule was the main worry for restauranteurs and merchants.
Construction is expected to happen over two construction seasons starting in 2019. Preliminary work to relocate utilities could begin in 2018.
The city intends to maintain a sidewalk for pedestrians during the entire construction period, but Elgin Street will be closed to vehicles for 12 months. The subsequent 10 months will see work crews move along the corridor installing the final road layers and gussying up the streetscape.
The $42-million project will replace the century-old sewers and water pipes under the road.
“City staff have put forward a design I’m excited about,” Sir John A. Pub owner Peter Abraham said.
The construction “is still going to be a challenge, but I know we can get through it,” Abraham said.
Councillors know that temporarily taking Elgin Street out of the city’s transportation network could play havoc with traffic, especially if there’s road work on other north-south arterial streets. They want staff to come up with a traffic management and communications plan.
The proposal to decease the speed limit to 30 km/h from 50 km/h had Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Michael Qaqish thinking it’s “overkill,” since it would be a first for the city for this kind of street.
While Qaqish wondered if the speed limit reduction was reasonable, city staff believe it’s necessary to protect cyclists because there’s no room to paint bike lanes.
No one on the committee got huffy about Elgin Street losing some on-street parking spaces in the redesign, but councillors want staff to look into occasionally making the city hall parking garage available for free during the construction.
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury wants the city to consider burying the hydro lines, or at least install underground ducts to in case it wants to relocate the wires one day.
The problem is, it would cost at least $10 million to bury the wires and the city doesn’t have a funding source for the extra work.
Fleury said the city is missing a golden opportunity to transform the streetscape to something befitting a capital city.
The construction project also includes Hawthorne Avenue and the nubbin of Waverley Avenue west of Elgin Street.
Council will vote on the plan next Wednesday.