WLRT Stations, part i, Westboro and Dominion

westboro station

First up: Westboro Station, then the new Dominion Station. One sees major change, the other very little.

Westboro Station gets no love.

The City’s newest reveal of the details for the Western extension of the Confederation Line LRT has only the scantiest mention of Westboro. It will be rebuilt in the style of the other Confederation line stations, with improved Scott Street frontage and improved access for people who walk or cycle. No further illustration or details are warranted, so they aren’t in the plan unveiling.

There is more info for Dominion Station.

Currently a collection of bus stops where the transitway joins the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway, aka Sir John A Parkway, this stop  will get a real station building in a slightly new location.

Right now the transitway trench comes up to the surface level at the edge of the parkway, and angles slightly north at the intersection. See this Google aerial view:google aerial view 1

The new trench will bend west, travelling in a continued shallow cut that, after the station, descends into a tunnel portal behind the Collican office building and  Minto’s new UpperWest condo tower. Here is the City’s sketchup of the new alignment, from a similar angle as the Google pic:

dominion 4

 

The new station will have open air LRT platforms in the trench. A walkway extends out towards the River via a new pedestrian underpass. Here’s the current view, and the City’s projection:

from the river view

dominion 3

 

 

Notice that the continuity of the pathway system on the south side of the river is maintained. Access to the new Station building will be from the street level on the Berkley / Dominion / Roosevelt side. From the Workman /Westboro Beach side, the surface walkways will run downhill to enter at the lower,  platform level.

The area keeps the existing ped bridge at the end of Roosevelt, and there may be a new one just west of the station, sort of visible if you squint at the sketchups above, to replace the current at-grade crossing of the pathway at the traffic lights now on the edge of the Parkway.

Here is a pigeon-eye view of the new Station itself, showing the entrance from the Berkley / Dominion streets at grade, the crossing over the tracks, and the staircases down to the sunken side platforms. The existing transitway multi user path continues past the station after traversing a broad front forecourt.

While there is a kiss-and-ride passenger drop off and pick up facility, I suspect it won’t see much more use than the current station does. This is a walk-in or bike-in station. There is no planned bus service to here, rather Richmond Road buses will wander their way to the Westboro Station with its bus loop and transfer point.

Nonetheless, if I lived on Berkley or Dominion I’d be lobbying for streetscaping as part of the project, perhaps even speed bumps or bulb outs with trees, as a sort of pre-emptive calming.

dominion 1

The view shown below is from the south side of the Parkway walking paths, as if one was approaching from Westboro Beach or Workman Avenue. This is the view motorists will have from the Parkway. (Will car commuters survive seeing a red train from their windows on the Parkway?! What risk takers these NCC folks are !) From the drawings, it looks like the pedestrian walkways make use of the former roadbed alignment of the transitway, as the new LRT cut moves off to the right, between the existing apartment buildings and the parkway :

dominion 2

 

Presumably, at night when the Station is closed, people will cross the LRT trench via the existing  Roosevelt ped bridge or the new crossing along the south side of the Parkway that goes towards the northwestern end of Workman Avenue.

Next: Cleary Station, and New Orchard Station

 

 

Queensview Station Crossing (part iii)

In the West End, the Confederation Line LRT will eventually extend to Lincoln Fields, then along Pinecrest Creek (where the transitway is) and it will split into two directions from a point north of the Queensway.

One leg will carry on to Algonquin College. The other leg vers westward under a city park and emerges from its underground tunnel between the Queensway and the west end bus garage on Queensview Drive. The in-an-open-cut  Queensview Station ( much like Westboro and Tunney’s Stations) will replace the lawn directly in front of The Brick.

Directly opposite The Brick is The Ottawa Citizen plant, and a bit further west, IKEA.

the brick side

 

Ground level access from Queensview neighbourhood to the Station will be via a walk in pathway between The Brick and the OC Transpo Garage. And also via the new multi user path coming from the Pinecrest Corridor.

The proposed Queensview Crossing pedestrian and cyclist bridge will run from the Queensview Station directly across the freeway to land approximately between the orange pin and the parked white bus  on the above aerial view. This isn’t as long a crossing of the freeway as the Coventry bridge does, but I expect the bridge will be roughly the same look and feel.

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A long inclined ramp will come up from the east side of The Brick property, and stairs and elevators will connect the new Bridge down to ground level and then down into the cut where the centre-platform station will be, directly in front of The Brick’s front door.

On the south side of the freeway, users of the Queensview Bridge south end stairs will have a close-up view of the Citizen loading docks:

citizen side , view

or, if they take the long inclined ramp down to street level, they will arrive on Baxter Road about here:

baxter road towards iris

That’s the Citizen parking lot on the left; IKEA is in the distance to the right, and Iris Street is somewhere ahead.

Presumably sidewalks out to Iris Street will be glued to the Baxter Road curb to make access to the bridge easier. No word if IKEA will build walkways into its store. Hopefully it won’t be a walkway following the circuitous road near the Queensway; I’d rather a more direct one through their parking garage so I won’t get wet or sunburned in the Million Acre Parking Lot. Might be a lot safer too.

Courtesy of Google, here’s an aerial view of the location, looking south. The Queensview Ped Bridge will cross the freeway between the Baxter Orange Dot and the white bus parked in the bottom left corner. The long ramp down brings one out on Baxter just south of the 417 road marker on the picture. Notice, BTW, that IKEA has a heat-reflecting white roof in contrast to the older industrial and commercial buildings in the Queensview area.

aerial, looking south

 

Here’s the same aerial view onto which I have attempted to draw the new LRT alignment with pink arrows, and show the ramps and Queensview Ped bridge with dotted splots.

my drawing of path, bridge

 

(My kindergarten teacher knew even then that I should do better …)

Unlike the Coventry Station vicinity, there is no intensification plan for the area. Probably because there is less undeveloped land. However, with improved accessibility via transit plus Queensway exposure, we can expect the industrial properties on Queensview (including OC Transpo’s garage) to be redeveloped starting around 2023. By that point, a number of the buildings will be at the end of their life span.  IKEA also has lots of potential for office buildings and more intensive development on its site. Expect new structures to be built above parking decks, much like IKEA is now.

The residential areas north and south of the Queensway corridor will also come under intensive redevelopment and intensification pressure. These are neighbourhoods of affordable small-ish (by today’s standards) 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s  homes on large lots. The city is almost ready to permit severing corner lots to fit in additional houses; there will be more of the usual Mediterranean style monster homes with multiple garage doors, and probably those modern shoe box infills made of corrugated metal. Tell your friends to buy there now in expectation of rapid price increases.

There are no City claims of a grand Transit-Oriented-Development  plan for the area. Expect to see gradual, incremental change over the coming decades. It will be up to community groups and interest groups to lobby for improved infrastructure for people who walk or cycle.There is certainly abundant opportunity for such improvements.

The new Queensview Bridge in particular makes cycling more viable as it creates an alternative crossing of the freeway, allowing people who ride to avoid the Pinecrest Interchange-from-Hell (although “fixes” are on the schedule for the 2020’s for there too, when the Pinecrest LRT Station is built).

 

(Part i of this series looked at the Coventry crossing now. Part ii looked at the planned bigger-suburban style intensification plans and laments missed opportunities. Part iii shifts to the Coventry’s cousin bridge at Queensview. ) Use the back arrow below to go back to those articles.

 

Coventry Bridge, Tremblay LRT Station Underachievers (part ii)

Train-Exterior-Birds-Eye

Will the redeveloped Tremblay Station area be better than what is there today? Will there be a wonderful world of tomorrow, or just a bigger – higher – denser version of autotopia?

Here’s a city-provided sketchup of the Tremblay LRT Station (formerly known as Train). Construction starts in December this year, for completion in July 2017. The ring road that services the train station is visible at the top; with the VIA Station at the top right. The parking lot shown is existing, but not for long.

While the main LRT entrance is to the east, by the ring road, there is a secondary entrance shown at western end of that very long train. It is shown going to the parking lot, but when that lot becomes a 30-storey office building, it might be a direct entrance to the building, or maybe even the start of a way to get south, beyond the Via Station, over to Train Yards.

The very nice glass roofed area along the ring road – shown below – doesn’t extend all the way to the VIA Station. The parking lot entrance is too important to interrupt.

Train-Exterior-Street

 

Shown below is a Google aerial photo of the area, with the ring road to the VIA Station very visible, the thin line of the Coventry Bridge, and the baseball stadium. Presumably one is to walk out to Coventry Road using the lane in front of the Stadium. Once there, Coventry itself is a pretty typical 1970’s looking and feeling suburban “arterial” (aka traffic sewer, choose your vocabulary).

The City is constructing bike lanes on Coventry, and maybe even some segments of bike tracks (bike lanes set back from the traffic, adjacent the sidewalk, like or Churchill).  Better than what is there now. Note too that in the planning horizon, St Laurent Shopping Centre will expand into the area just right of the orange dot (shown below) and Coventry will be rearranged northwards to go around the New Wonderfully Expanded Parking Lots:

google view neighbourhood

 

The City has a intensification plan for the area shown above. In big block terms, it is thus:

train, development plans

Those red blocks are 30 storey buildings, one on each parking lot beside the VIA Station, and a bunch behind the Station tracks along Terminal Avenue. The yellow star marks the new Tremblay LRT Station. I expect the area to be a mix of apartment towers a la Hurdman style, and some office towers should / when the Feds need more space. I do not expect it to be a pleasant urban environment, rather it will be, in the suburban vocabulary,  “park like” with separate buildings close together in splendid isolation. Like Hurdman.

Here’s the planner’s porn view, although most of the towers seem underbuilt according to the plan. In some areas, the City considers the zoning height to be the minimum acceptable development, but I don’t know if that is the case here:

train, future build out

A pedestrian connection will be essential to get from the new LRT Station to those new residences and offices, and that is shown on the ped plan by a faint blue conceptual line behind the VIA Station:

train area ped plans

 

Otherwise, the ped plan just shows sidewalks glued to the edge of the roads. Where people want to drive, people who walk must want to go to too. What’s good for cars is good for walkers.

It certainly isn’t Transit-Oriented-Development, or ToD. It is typical last-century road- oriented development parcels that happens to be near a transit stop.  There is nothing organizing or focussing the area around the transit station, or making walking a priority, or encouraging development from the pedestrian / transit spine outwards. Where is that broad pedestrian avenue, lined with Tim Horton’s, with day care  and a senior’s residence and parkettes and ponds and trees and cafe’s??

(Go back and look how Portland does real ToD better, read  three stories here:    http://www.westsideaction.com/building-lebetter-flats-part-7-view-portland/

In Ottawa, walking is squeezed in as an after thought to motoring. Why isn’t there a big bold blue STRAIGHT-ish  line showing a pedestrian spine running from Coventry, in front of the Stadium, over the bridge, crossing the LRT Station, and  through / beside the VIA Station over to Industrial Avenue? The very crookedness of the City’s current path, its interrupted nature, it’s deviousness, reveals all. Potemkin village ToD. Faux Urbanism. Traditional suburban sprawl writ big.

There is a plan for people who bike, too. It also starts with the motor vehicle plan, and grafts onto it some sharrows and minor facilities. Better than what’s there now, which is nothing.

train area cycle plans

Despite the million dollar Coventry Bridge, there is no bold cycling spine through the planning area, nothing to lead one to want to cycle to the Stations. There will be a devious wiggly route for the truly deluded people who will cycle here. This plan is a sad under-reach that results in under-achievement (pardon my mincing words here).

Look at that sketchup once again, and see if you can spot the transit-oriented plan? If you block out the LRT Station with your finger, would the plan look any different?

train, future build out

On a more cheerful note, maybe it will be years before the area redevelops, and the plan might be updated. There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.

Next:  Queensview ped bridge:  deja vu all over again?

 

Coventry Active Transportation Bridge (part i)

I do occasionally get out of my WestSide stomping grounds. A recent trip took me to the near East Side where I had the opportunity to use the new Coventry  bridge for people who walk and people who cycle, over the Queensway. It’s also useful to look at it in light of the similar proposed Queensview bridge.

I took the transitway to the Tremblay Station (in the hole in front of VIA Rail Station). The formerly landscaped slopes around it have been clearcut for construction starting later this year of the realigned roadbed and new Confederation LRT Line station location a bit further west than the current station.

 

Coming up the stairs to ground level OC Transpo had one of those useful detailed local area maps that shows what is nearby. Alas, the Coventry Bridge is not shown. But the OC Transpo Trip Planner did show it open, so we went looking for it.

First, I headed north, across the transitway via the red ped bridge. Alas, on the north side there is only access down to the westbound platforms … even though a 100 feet beyond the glass pane was the start of the Coventry Bridge. You can’t get there from here.

Trudge back across the red bridge, step out onto the sidewalk in front of the VIA Station, which has a very Big City look and feel, what with all those lanes of traffic (more than at the airport?) bringing in passengers (we hope).

I elected to follow the sidewalk to my right (there was no sign) which seemed promising but after about 60′ it suddenly dies, no curb cut, no crosswalk, nothing, just jump down off the curb onto the curved road and wind through the lineup of taxis. But the bridge was in sight !

Climbing the steps, looking back, this is the view:

IMG_3052

 

There was a lengthy paperclip ramp off to the right.

The bridge itself was wonderful.  Glass walls block out Queensway noise and fumes.There is a roof to keep one dry from precipitation and the wall of spray that defines the freeway. It is a huge improvement over walking over the Queensway on those 1960-era road overpasses.

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Not that the freeway was very free that early Saturday evening:

IMG_3054

At the derrière-end of the baseball stadium, there is another set of stairs and a paper clip ramp. One definitely felt a sense of arriving at the back door, the service entrance, the bleak side of the building. It was more than slightly foreboding.

Looking back towards the ramp from the parking lot that serves as the back of the Marriott Hotel and front of the baseball stadium:

IMG_3057

The arrival point was definitely underwhelming. I know it was desolate April with no vegetation, and the area isn’t finished, but but but …

It was not apparent which way one was to go, so I headed diagonally off towards the Marriott convention centre or whatever it is. Don’t look back:

IMG_3056

Indeed, don’t look forward, because the Marriott has a very unfriendly back side – no doors, no trees, no landscaping, no sidewalk, no nothing, ‘cept asphalt:

IMG_3058

 

So, perhaps it is unfair to complain about what it looks like today, given that it is all very brand new, and the landscaping isn’t finished, and there is no signage, and it isn’t readily apparent which way one should go or would want to go.

So let’s look at the plans for  … the world tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surface drainage appeals to politicians more than sewers

I am glad to see Federal funding for reducing the pollution of the Ottawa River. It is about time governments — Federal, Provincial, and Municipal — stopped giving themselves free passes to pollute public waterways.

The City of Ottawa has on numerous occasions averted its eyes from the sewage it dumps in the river. I think it is because politicians don’t see much political value in underground sewers. Once built, you can’t see them.  Much better to spend money on visible projects, especially if they are visible around election time.

As we reached “peak sewer” in the 1990’s and realized we couldn’t just keep draining and piping away the sewage and rainfall, the concept of surface storage ponds came along. The first ones, you may recall, had steep sides and were fenced off for safety.

Ugly.

Dangerous.

Must avert eyes.

But a surprising (to engineers) thing happened. People liked sewage ponds. They attracted birds and wildlife. People paid high premiums for residential lots adjacent wetlands. A few new ponds came with walking trails nearby. Later, the fencing became more selective.

Now storage ponds are deliberately landscaped more in keeping with recreational environments.

No, we aren’t swimming in them.

Yet.

In other cities (and they have been featured on this blog numerous times) storage ponds have now become “rain gardens” and are prominent features of urban parks and high income neighbourhoods.

And this past winter I came across some prominent  politically visible sewer infrastructure:

IMG_1917

This is on the shores of Lake Kissimmee in Florida. It looks sorta like a cockpit set in the ground. Or a greenhouse?

Actually, its a viewing port into a sewer:

IMG_1916

 

Looking in, you can actually see the filters and settling bins for cleaning waterborn junk.

IMG_1915

 

I confess to being rather surprised to see this, but not the surface stormwater ponds nearby that were a prominent feature of this waterfront park:

IMG_1913

 

Note that all that infrastructure is not fenced off. Nor signed as “no trespassing”.

I came across the same transparent sewer facility in Dunedin, Fl. too, that then drained into the bioswale or “rain garden” just beyond:

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BTW, notice the nice wide pathway for people who cycle, and the parallel but distinct walking path. Oh, and the bike repair station with tools and airpump. And benches. And garbage can. And bike racks. And paved connection to the city street network.

Look at this site:

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Lovely park, eh? Very inviting.  Actually, it’s a sewer treatment plant conservation park, complete with sewer lagoons. All very tasteful.

IMG_2573

 

Once politicians get familiar with the idea of visible sewers, we’ll see a lot more of them. I can’t wait.

IMG_2576

 

 

City not interested in path under Qway

The City has pronounced itself regarding the replacement of the Queensway overpass at the OTrain / Trillium corridor.

The existing east side pathway will get an underpass for people who walk or cycle. As for the west side, the City says:

 It is deemed to be a longer-term project (post 2031) and therefore is not included in the City’s current affordable plan.  It should be noted that this west-side MUP could provide localized circulation benefits even if there were not to be a direct connection beneath the Queensway bridge.  Communities on the west side can still conveniently access the east-side MUP at several crossings of the O-Train corridor such as Gladstone, Young (footbridge), Beech, and Hickory (new footbridge under construction).

You may recall that the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) proposes rebuilding the Qway bridge over the OTrain corridor to be like this:

IMG_1920

Apparently, the “ballpark” cost of extending the bridge over a path on the west side side would be 2 to 3 million dollars. (A more accurate costing is apparently in the works). The City doesn’t want to pay for that. So it will go for no underpass now, and reassess the situation in 2031.

Will anyone be surprised if it costs much more tunnel under an existing Qway embankment at that time? So much more that it will cost-prohibitive?

There is no word on whether the City would be interested in a cheaper box tunnel on the west side, similar to the Somerset underpass. Such a structure would allow people who use the path to decide which route to take, depending on their circumstances and bravery.

That the City could propose missing this opportunity isn’t shocking. Disappointing, but not shocking. After all, the previous east-side path was started in 1962, and despite three completed underpasses (at Qway, Albert, and Ottawa River Parkway) couldn’t muster the effort to fix the “missing link” at Somerset for 42 years, despite several cycles of rebuilding the Somerset viaduct (in the 1960’s, 1980’s, and  2010’s).

Similarly, where Carling overpasses the OTrain, the bridges will someday have to be replaced in order to double-track the OTrain. I repeatedly asked that the Carling plans, the Preston-Carling CDP and Secondary Plan, The City Cycling plan, et al, include a “future link” path through the underpass for people who walk and people who cycle and people accessing the Carling OTrain station, and it was consistently turned down. One commonly cited reason is that the cycling plan doesn’t call for an underpass. It doesn’t call for an underpass … because there is no short term plan to replace the bridges. And the bridges cannot be designed to include a path unless the need is identified. Circular thinking at its best. Note, however, the City could and did include an “conceptual” extension of Sherwood through the Federal Lands to connect to Prince of Wales to better direct car traffic to the Qway at Holland. Apparently some conceptual links are easier to conceive of than others.

Back when the first phase of the Otrain / Trillium pathway was being designed (from Ottawa River to Young) I suggested to the City that they dump five truckloads of stonedust on the west side of the OTrain cut, and the community would spread the stuff to make a cinder path under the Queensway. A de facto path, if not quite de jure.

The City couldn’t afford the stonedust.

In related matters, the City is holding an open house on this Saturday, between 3.30 and 5pm, at the Plant Rec Centre, to unveil its design for the pathway from Young to Carling.  Apparently, the asphalt surfacing is gone (stonedust only) except for the already-paved little bit from Hickory to Carling (right at the Carling OTrain Station). It will be interesting to find out why the budget, which just last fall included asphalt, can no longer afford pavement.

And the summer completion date is being pushed back.

 

 

Death by a thousand nibbles

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Walking along the Otrain pathway, I am distressed to see so many trees debarked by rabbits or mice.

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They probably won’t survive.

Last year, we lost a whole bunch on the NCC side of Bayview Station. None of the trees there had chew guards on them, while the city trees south of Bayview Station did.

This year, there were no tree guards left at all.

I wonder if the contractor picks them up for reuse when they removed the posts that held up the burlap wind protection installed for the first two winters. After all, they only have to ensure they live for two years.

Maybe that’s the whole idea.