News / Ottawa

Sinkhole pain resurfaces as Rideau shut down till December

Beginning Wednesday night, Rideau Street will be closed from Sussex Drive to Daly Avenue until the end of the year.

A massive sinkhole on Rideau Street in June left the surrounding soil unstable, prompting the city's light rail contractor to close the road around the clock this week to get it ready for tunnelling.

Joe Lofaro/Metro

A massive sinkhole on Rideau Street in June left the surrounding soil unstable, prompting the city's light rail contractor to close the road around the clock this week to get it ready for tunnelling.

The spectre of the Rideau sinkhole is haunting commuters and business owners once again.

Beginning Wednesday night, Rideau Street will be closed from Sussex Drive to Daly Avenue until the end of the year so light rail contractor Rideau Transit Group can stabilize the soil around a major sinkhole that closed the road in June. The work needs to be done before the the final 30 metres of tunnelling can be completed.

Nightly closures began Oct. 3, and city staff had hoped RTG would be able to get its work done without major disruptions to businesses or transit.

But after two weeks of slow progress, staff agreed this week to close the road around the clock.

“This gives them 24/7 and they can be very, very productive,” said transportation manager John Manconi.

The trade-off, of course, is more pain for businesses and commuters.

Between light rail work and the Rideau Centre renovations, Rideau Street businesses have been dealing with near-constant construction, and the road has been closed to private vehicles for more than a year.

Manconi said his team will "bend over backwards" to accommodate requests to make life easier for the business owners who still have another 18 months of light rail construction to go.

As for transit users, bus routes 2, 4, 9, 12 and 18 will now stop on either side of the canal, forcing many passengers to transfer or walk further to reach their final destinations.

Route 12 user Sam Boswell said there’s been little communication about the changes, which came with less than two days notice.

“I think a lot of people are going to be caught off guard,” she said.

Westbound routes 2 and 4 will stop short of the Rideau Centre, letting passengers off at Elgin and Sparks streets. And routes 9, 12 and 18 will no longer serve the western side of the canal, leaving passengers to transfer or walk if they work in Centretown.

"Its going to add at least 40 minutes to my commute," said Boswell.

Systems manager Pat Scrimgeour said the routes had to be truncated over the canal because Mackenzie King bridge has very little capacity to take any more buses.  

June's three-week detour around the sinkhole was bad enough, he said, and that was in good weather with reduced summer ridership.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said his ward's transit users are understandably frustrated, and he promised the detours are "a work in progress."

He said he'll be monitoring how the new routes are working and helping OC Transpo tweak them if necessary.

Metro Savers