LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

The Bayview Station is quite complex to describe compared to Tunney’s or Hurdman. Basically, it is a long thin platform built atop an earthen embankment, pretty much where the bus shelters are now. But rather than have sloping pedestrian paths connect to the O-train platform about 16′ lower down, under the overpasses, the City proposes to build an escalator connection at the west end of the new platform that takes users directly down to the O-Train platform. This is a great development for users that transfer

What complicates the Bayview Station is that it is in the middle of an empty space and the surrounding transit connections are still undecided. They have to allow for the O-Train (or its LRT successors) to continue north across the Prince of Wales Bridge to Gatineau, or for the bridge to be converted to a busway for STO buses to arrive at a transfer station to be built at Bayview. They also have to allow for the O-Train (or its LRT successors) to turn east and join the soon-to-be-constructed East-West LRT line. This would allow direct airport to downtown LRT service, which would be a real boon to travellers, visitors, and convention traffic (the alternative, extending the  north-south LRT to Gatineau’s casino and convention centre, would deliver the benefits of direct service to Gatineau). They also have to plan for the possibility that the Western LRT extension study will recommend the track turn south and then west along Carling. Whew. And that’s before the cycling and pedestrian access options are put in!

So what the City proposes, and this is quite clever, is to build the new east-west LRT on the earthen embankment, with two partial “basement” or lower levels. One would be at the O-Train end, the other at the eastern end of the platforms.  If tracks are needed to connect to the O-train corridor, they would be built down in a cut on either side of the new station, with new stations built below but just outside the foundations of the first station. This should minimize building a grand station in advance of need (that might never come) or disturbing the first phase of the station when building the subsequent phases. The devil, of course lies in the details. Because keeping lots of options open also closes off other choices that might make a better station and city now.

Here are the general site characteristics:

The site analysis has some curious features, which leads me to think the Planners didn’t actually visit the site. They claim the station has great River views to the North, but don’t the berms along the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway block that view? The brown zig-zaggy lines identify “bad” views of industrial lands. But all these lands are slated for redevelopment with transit-friendly condos and offices … and local condo builders tell us that industrial views do NOT reduce the saleability of units. The site plan does correctly identify that Bayview has a fabulous view of the downtown, and the station will be visible from far and wide. It shall be interesting to see how they take advantage of that.

I cringed a bit when I saw the pedestrian and cycling plan for the environs:

The golden yellow dotted line running along Scott and Albert Streets identifies a potential on-street cycling lane. This axis is a nice direct route connecting the west end with downtown. But it doesn’t identify the existing MUP along Scott or Albert, which if improved and connected might make a better safer parallel facility (“BikeWest”); although the continuing the existing MUP is mentioned in subsequent slides (the Bayview slides are a hodge-podge of different ideas not at all integrated).

Unfortunately there is no key provided to explain the exploding graph over the top of the station that shows alighting and boarding. And I shudder a bit when the neighborhoods around the station are shown as blank white zones, a sort of terra incognito.

The opportunities study, shown below, fixes some of these concerns. It shows a possible connection of the Albert MUP to the Scott MUP winding it through the entry plaza of the Station and then down to the O-Train platform, and then west along the north edge of the transitway viaduct (where the old spay-neuter clinic was) [insert cyclist joke here] and Merkley now is, and then somehow connecting to the Scott MUP via the existing Bayview Road underpass. This link will work, but only for the first phases of the LRT system, as the land will be required for other facilities later on and a new MUP route would be required.

The opportunities plan also shows the north-south MUP from the new Somerset underpass, which is good. On this slide they neglected to show it reaching the O-Train platform, which numerous other slides do show. It would even better if the route crossed the O-Train tracks on the old Wellington alignment, which neighborhood plans continually call for reopening for pedestrians and cyclists.

For pedestrians, the plan calls for a set of stairs down the slope behind Tom Brown arena, to replace the goat trail there now, and a path along the soccer field to Breezehill North. This is good. They call for wider sidewalks (6′ and 9′ wide) east of the  overpass over the O-train, but don’t address the appallingly narrow and unwelcome substandard sidewalk currently on that bridge. Will this be false economy?

They also propose a kiss-and-ride and taxi stand at the City Centre Avenue end of the site.

I am struck in the above drawing at how cathedral-like the station outline is. Given its prominent views in all directions, and consequent visibility from all directions, there is generous opportunity to build a truly landmark station here. Unfortunately, no sketches of the building are provided.

In the illustration below, the City shows the surrounding area as it might be built out in the future:

The build-out uses the existing plans for Bayview Yards and the Bayview-Carling CDP illustration for development along the City Centre spine. The NCC illustration for LeBreton Flats is also employed for the area east of City Centre Avenue. At the rate Claridge is building out Phase One, we should see development here in about 2090. Conspicuously absent is any mention of development north of the Station, supposedly the site for a new museum (Science and Technology?).

Here is the initial build out plan for the site (it would require significant add-ons if the STO service arrives, or the O-Train goes downtown or is converted to LRT):

Starting at the left side of the picture, note the new path along the Tom Brown soccer field, connecting to Breezehill North, and with a flight of stairs up to Scott. There is no indication who will build this, or when. Note that the path continues under Albert and joins the proposed paths on the north side of the LRT corridor and has an entrance to the O-Train platform and LRT station above.

On the east side of the O-train tracks, the O-train corridor cycling path or MUP is shown running from the O-train platform south to the new Somerset underpass being built this year. It notes that the path will be built by others, not part of the OLRT. It is not clear from this drawing, but is on others, that the path continues past the O-Train platform towards the river and joins a proposed E-W MUP. This drawing does NOT include the E-W MUP connection along the north side of Albert connecting to the Scott MUP, although that is shown on other diagrams. I suspect it will take perseverance by the cycling lobbies to ensure these links are actually kept in the plans and built.

The station itself has generous bike parking areas under the eaves of the large roof overhangs.

Bizarrely the City proposed relocating the pedestrian crossing of Albert to a point further east, probably for the convenience of motorists entering a small side street. But it means that pedestrians arriving at the grand paved pedestrian forecourt of the station do not have a pedestrian crossing of Albert. I have no doubt they will cross anyway, and the City will have engineered in a safety hazard.

The kiss and ride lot, to the east end of the station environs, has been improved by turning it into a small crescent street circling a TOD development. This is good.

Below is a drawing of the station with trains at the platforms:

Note that the “downstairs” lobby for the O-train is shown at the left (west) end of the platforms; and at the east end is a downstairs lobby for when the lower-level platforms are built alongside this station (maybe)(someday in the future). See below:

Curiously, another downstairs public platform area has suddenly appeared in this drawing that is not on the previous ones. That is the connection between the two lower level platforms, between the area shown in blue and the unexcavated dark gray. This link is essential for the best look and feel and subjective safety of patrons. It remains to be determined if it will be built, and when.

I look forward to seeing what the proposed building exterior and roof looks like. It has enormous potential, due to the building height at the top of a significant rise in the landscape. At its west and east ends, the station will soar at least 33′ above the tracks.

In summary, the Bayview Station seems to address all the major access concerns in a rudimentary way. The station is very large, and complex. It remains a bit of a mystery to see if the City will actually build this grand a station at this location or if it will fall victim to cost cutting. The City will need to consult more with the community to improve the Albert Street crosswalk, the Albert-Scott E/W MUP, and pedestrian access from the Scott side(west) of the station.

Tomorrow: LeBreton Flats, the Station under a bridge…

10 thoughts on “LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

  1. again, the neighbourhood gets the low priority… if 4 in 5 walk on passengers will be from the West, why not move the station to the west of the Otrain? Keeps the station just as close to the current Otrain alignment for Otrain/Rapibus transfers, but moves it further from a N-S-to-downtown alignment which may never exist. exactly. Why are we prioritizing transfers from an alignment that may never exist? How many transfers do we expect to come from the future-notional N-S-to-downtown to the E-W line that these passengers should be prioritized over the existing and future walk-on passengers from planned-to-grow Hintonburg and Mechanicsville?

    1. I agree that a location West of – or straddling – the O-Train tracks would serve the giant 80% bubble far better than the current wasteland location. No one should EVER be forced to walk across the bleak and terrible Scott Street bridge. And the pedestrian staircase would just be a bandaid on an amputation. But as Eric points out there are a million small tradeoffs that push it to the East side (which is also awkwardly) close to the LeBreton station.

      But also note an unlabelled feature in the “Opportunities” illustration shows a thin pedestrian bridge across the tracks along the angle of the old Wellington Street. Which shows that somebody has at least considered the effort Eric mentioned as: “…better if the route crossed the O-Train tracks on the old Wellington alignment, which neighborhood plans continually call for reopening for pedestrians and cyclists.”

      I think that link – and soon – should be a high priority, and let’s think creatively about how we can get there. So for example, what if the City were to allow a generous height allowance for the wedge-shaped property between old Wellington and the Scott bridge in exchange for a solid pedestrian link between the Hintonburg end of the Wellington alignment through the development and across to the station?

      Such a bridge should be a focal point of Hintonburg and Wellington West lobbying efforts in my opinion, and should factor much more strongly into the planning of the station, surrounding development land, and certainly cycling / pedestrian access.

  2. Extending the O-train to the Airport would make this a key hub; building out the O-train to the south would also increase its utility.

    My hope is that we’ll see train to the airport sooner rather than later, as it would provide significant congestion relief.

  3. The planners originally had a station straddling the O-Train track, but that required and expensive widening of the bridge. It is first and foremost, much cheaper to put it on the earthen embankment. A station stradding the current O-Train would be very awkward should the N/S LRT turn to go downtown, it would essentially have to skip the Bayview station and transfer at the LeBreton Station.
    Overall, the station location makes sense. We can dream all we want about grander things but run the risk of pricing ourselves out of reality and getting nothing at all. As it is, I see this whole station as a bit at risk.

    For now, I’d rather accept their general assumptions and focus on getting real world improvements that will make it function better for our communities.

  4. So why are there all these high density buildings around the station, but none above it? At a minimum, it seems it would make sense to design the station so that it could easily be built over.

    1. And look! Cut-and-past “trees” and “green space” all round! The groundhog modal share for transit will increase by 17%!

  5. Having an extended O-Train to the airport and Riverside South/Leitrim hooking up to the first phase of the LRT would make the LRT a lot more appealing (and well-used). Knowing you can travel downtown from a far-flung ‘burb by efficient, arrives-on-time train – even though it requires a transfer – is a nice thing to know. Build it now and give the city the beginnings of a rail network.

  6. As some one who lives near the present O-train I was partial to the idea of having it join up with the E-W line and go into downtown so I would not have to transfer. Transit systems all over the world feature multiple lines that share tunnels. I suggested as much to the Engineer who guided the Jane Jacbos walk along the tunnel site, a couple of Saturdays ago especially since the existing O-Train could be brought out to Letrium and the airport. He said the council had asked the team to look into that but he believed the best scenario would be for a “T” connection, allowing for the existing O-train to eventually cross the river. He also said that having the O-train entering the tunnel would complicate the scheduling of E-W trains which he suggested would becoming ever 3 minutes during peak times. I thought: 3 minutes?!??!?! No will mind haivng to transfer if E-W trains come every three minutes, but I am a little sceptical about that.

    By the way, Eric, thanks for all your efforts on this. And also for the piece you have on about the MUP along the O-train cut. What a shame if they build the undepass at Somerset and then board it up!

  7. I don’t think anyone believes the O-Train will continue operating forever, but with completion of phase 1 of LRT not scheduled until tentatively 2018, and phase 2 occurring God-knows-when, an extended O-Train will be a useful addition to the city transportation network, even if it means transferring at Bayview.

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