News / Ottawa

Portion of St. Laurent to get bus, cycling lanes over next year

A section of St. Laurent Boulevard in Alta Vista is undergoing a makeover that will see the installation of transit lanes and cycle tracks over the next year.

Raised cycle tracks and transit-only lanes will be installed along sections of St. Laurent Boulevard in Alta Vista next year. The changes are part of an $8.9-million transformation coming to the boulevard that was spearheaded to address congestion.

City of Ottawa/Screen grab

Raised cycle tracks and transit-only lanes will be installed along sections of St. Laurent Boulevard in Alta Vista next year. The changes are part of an $8.9-million transformation coming to the boulevard that was spearheaded to address congestion.

A section of St. Laurent Boulevard in Alta Vista is undergoing a makeover that will see the installation of transit lanes and cycle tracks over the next year to meet the demand of a growing population and to ease congestion.

The two-stage $8.9-million project will change the look of the boulevard from south of Smyth Road to north of the junction at Industrial Avenue and Innes Road. It’s scheduled to be completed in November 2017.

The raised cycle tracks will be installed on either side of the boulevard to provide a convenient and safer commuting method and add to multi-modal transportation options “as we seek to increase the usage of rapid transit through the incredible convenience and the speed of the LRT,” Alta Vista Coun. Jean Cloutier said, referring to the new light-rail transit line that will open in 2018, which will include the opening of the new nearby station at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre.

The improvements are being driven by the projected 30-per-cent boost to the city’s population between 2006 and 2031, as well as to get more people out of their cars and reduce travel delay and infrastructure costs, according to a staff report to committee and council this spring.

The first phase of the overhaul began this past summer with utilities work from Industrial Avenue and Innes Road to Bourassa Street. And in early November, the sidewalks along that stretch began to be rebuilt and reconfigured. That was expected to be put on hold as of Dec. 16 for the winter months and resume next spring.

In 2017 the raised cycle tracks, which will be at the same level as the sidewalks, will be installed on both sides of the four-lane boulevard to improve traffic flow and improve safety for cyclists to Bourassa Street.

“The cycling community and users in Ottawa are always asking for better connectivity through the spine routes,” Cloutier said of St. Laurent Boulevard and Bank Street.

Boosting cycling safety encourages more people to turn to two wheels to get around and “thus reduce the congestion for those who drive and for those who can’t cycle because of their work or their health,” he said.

He acknowledged the boulevard is busy at all hours of the day.

“I have cycled on St. Laurent and it is difficult,” Cloutier said. “It’s not very pleasant to cycle. We want to improve that because it is the quickest, the shortest way to get to the St. Laurent Shopping Centre and the LRT hub that will be there.”

Transit-only lanes will also be created in some sections along both sides of the boulevard. Other changes will include intersection modifications, the addition of new left-hand turning lanes, road resurfacing and new street lights.

As part of this first phase, the sidewalk along St. Laurent between Belfast and Tremblay roads has been getting a refresh. It is being redone and widened. That work is expected to be completed the middle of this week.

“It was a very narrow sidewalk and not very pleasant for people to walk on,” Cloutier said.

The second phase of the transformation, which will also be done next year for $3 million from that same funding pot, will see similar alterations made to St. Laurent Boulevard between Bourassa Street and Lancaster Road.

A number of changes are coming to that part of Alta Vista that will also heighten the need for change.

A plan to redesign the Elmvale Acres Shopping Centre and add high-rise apartments over the next two decades is expected to be submitted to the city this month by RioCan.

The tentative plan called for 0.5 parking spots per residential unit and the hope is that tenants will walk, cycle or catch the bus to their destinations.

“We expect and we want to make sure that it is a good choice and an easy choice for people to take transit,” Cloutier noted.

The reopening next November of the Canada Science and Technology Museum will also bring more traffic to the area.

“We’ll want to make the transit options as attractive as possible,” the councillor added.

A third phase is also a future goal for St. Laurent from Industrial to Belfast. It is not included in the current budget.

“But that too at some point will have to be looked at,” Cloutier said. “I don’t know where it rates in terms of the current needs, but we want to improve St. Laurent as a transit corridor, from Industrial all the way to the 417.”

This story first appeared in Metroland Media.

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