A big truck delivers another section of tunnel to Somerset Street. The extra-wide load is escorted by leading vehicles. Each tunnel segment weighs 32 tons. The deliveries are not permitted during morning or evening “rush hours” so as to minimize traffic delays.
Recall that there is a pedestrian-cyclist tunnel under construction. The tunnel will take users under Somerset Street, parallel to the O-Train.
Segments of the pre-cast tunnel were delivered today. Each giant precast block of concrete has a female and male “end”. There are holes cast in the tunnel segments to tie them all together and some holes in the sides which will have pins that hold them to the concrete reataining walls of the viaduct.
The first piece installed is the north portal. It got its inside leading edge a bit crumbled in the process (visible on the far left of the pic below). There is only 5cm clearance on the sides and top of the hole, so it has to be very precisely placed:
Note the steel beam bolted into the concrete pad that is the stopper for the first piece.
I didn’t see them drag the big tunnel piece with the bulldozer. Instead, they used it as a heavy object, attaching chains between it and the tunnel segment and using “come alongs” (winches, pulleys, and a ratchet lever) they manually moved it centimeter by centimeter. Getting the first one perfectly placed was important.
In the picture below you can see the tunnel segment on the far left, with the leading edge slightly damaged: (most of the visible concrete in the picture is the bridge abutment itself, chipped away by jackhamers to widen the opening a bit after the saw cut hole proved a bit too tight)
Eventually, the second piece of tunnel was dropped into the hole onto the foundation, and winched into place. A type of grit was put on the foundation first, to help the tunnel piece slide or glide a bit (tombstone makers and sculptors use ordinary white sugar for the same purpose; put between two slabs of granite the sugar makes them slide around easily).
Then the overhead cables were disconnected: (note the lubricating grit spread on the conrete to the left of the tunnel piece)
It was then winched into place with the “come along” block and tackle gear. But before that could happen, they moved the first piece of tunnel over about 4″ to the left:
This was a slow process; eventually a large power shovel was called in to help push the pieces into place: (pic below is taken from above and “inside” the hole)
As of Monday night, there were two tunnel pieces put in place; and two more were awaiting their crane ride on Tuesday. I expect the main section of the tunnel will go quicker, since they are not having to insert it into a portal. But after most of the tunnel pieces are put in, there will be the portal to cope with on the south side.
I was out a few weeks ago helping to put parking survey slips on parked bikes in the downtown. The focus was on bikes parked on the surface of streets between Wellington and Laurier.
There were incredible numbers of bikes around Place de Ville. But there are also some tucked away parking spots, here is one off Wellington:
If you squint closely, you might notice two-thirds of the way down the row, on the right, there is even one of those bike maintenance posts to hang your bike one whilst oiling it, adjusting the gears, etc.
I didn’t notice a handy-dandy tool kit near-by, though.
I recently took the city course on Parks Planning, part of a series of planning courses they offer to educate the great unwashed.
I will offer some more comments on the course should I ever find my notes. But the most significant impression I took away related to parks and parking.
Now I went into the
battle course with loins girded to ask some tough questions. Like, why is so much of our precious scarce parkland occupied by parking lots? Is this really the highest and best use of parkland? I was all prepared to offer up the example of the Plant Pool Complex/Plouffe Park, where constructing the new pool necessitated removing the children’s playground and all its mature trees so that people can drive and park right at the door, the better to minimize the distance to those treadmills.
Underground parking was ruled out as too expensive, but the city park planners assign absolutely ZERO value to existing parkland. It was either build a parking lot on existing park space — the no cost option — or build a parking garage under the pool, which option was indeed costed highly.
You can guess which choice won. And who lost.
So I was greatly interested at the course when the park vs parking issue was brought up by others before I could raise it. As it happens, it was brought up by the Orleans contingent. And then vocally supported by the Barrhaven contingent.
“Why”, they wanted to know, “were the parking lots in parks so small??”
“Why”, an Orleanean sputtered, “people coming to the park just down the street from him actually stop on park on his street! And worse, they park close to the curb, so then they step out of their cars … they actually step onto his lawn! And then they trample it again when they get back into their cars!”
It positively ruins the pleasure he should have by living close to a public park.
Oh, the Horror. Of. It. All.
Sound of Cheers from the Barrhaven Branch.
The City Parks staff giving the course fairly oozed sympathy for one of the complainants. Tsch tsch, parking is such a problem.
Unbelievably, the dialogue then went on to discuss the merits of fencing city parks with high chain link fences that would have locked gates, the keys to which would only be distributed to local residents, thus keeping outsiders … well, outside.
I can’t wait to run some license plate checks and charge variable parking fees to parkers at Plant Pool.
So, who says taking a city offered course is dull, boring, and uninteresting? I thought this one offered lots to ponder upon.
Down on LeBreton Flats things are quieter right now. The music concert season is drawing to a close (did you notice, the HoDown patrons were much better dressed than the Bluesfest patrons? Cowboy boots, hot pants, checkered shirts, and straw cowboy hats….hee hah!).
Claridge is finishing up his current building, but not yet started its next bunch. You can actually hear the birds chirp, and see them flitting from stunted popular tree to stunted shrub amongst the bomb-crater landscape that typifies much of the Flats.
Claridge builds the condos, and landscapes their grounds. He then landscapes the “public parkland” space along the new bike path. He builds the path too. This all part of the subdivision agreement he has with the City.
I have railed before on the lack of utility in constructing a bike path 100m at a time. As each building is landscaped, its bit of path is built. At this rate, there will be a complete path to Booth Street by 2018, and further west well after I am dead.
But I notice Claridge landscapes only between the path and his building. He does not complete the last few feet on the far side of the path:
If we depend on Claridge we might wait a wee while before these verges, edges, and leftover spaces are properly landscaped. If we wait for the City to act, we will all be dead first. Does the city really have inspectors to ensure that subdivision agreements are fulfilled?
There is a curious little building on the site; it houses switching equipment, with a midget-sized door. The landscape plans show it surmounted by a large trellis with plant growth. Alas, all I see here is grafitti-style artwork on its side:
Much fuss has been made about the merits of running the new LRT along parts of the Parkway aka Ottawa River Commuter Expressway.
Personally, I don’t see why motorists have to get the view and nice landscaping whilst transit users have to ride in a ditch. I think electric trains on grassy trackbeds along the river would be more environmentally sensitive than noisy, fumey cars and buses on asphalt roads that have to be salted all winter.
I realize one** of the “criticisms” of riverfront transit is the aesthetics of overhead wiring. I spotted this view of Island Park Bridge and thought immediately how similar it might look to poles for overhead catenary wires above an LRT. The bridge gives us the worst of the motorist option: wide road, salt, noise, overhead posts and clutter. An LRT would give us rails set in irrigated grass, overhead posts and wiring. Hmm, so much to choose from.
** I dont want to continue the debate here about catchment areas, cost, the war on cars, etc. We all know the arguments. This post is just about the novel view that in some places we already have a lot of overhead clutter, but without the LRT.
PS: the blog will be unmoderated for a few days while I am busy on another project.