Quick facts

Some Important Bridge Crossings Study Background Information



The issue of trucks in the downtown area 

  • Currently approximately 3600 heavy trucks (6 wheels or more) cross the Ottawa river each day. 
  • Of those approximately 2500 use the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and King Edward / Rideau, and Waller streets and 900 use the Chaudières Bridge.  
  • Approximately 62% of the trucks are 18-wheelers (i.e., tractor-trailers). 
  • Contrary to popular belief the majority of these trucks are not simply transiting through the National Capital Region from Quebec.  The majority of the truck total either begins or ends (or both) their journeys within this region. 
  • The City of Ottawa Official Plan calls for the removal of the truck route designation from King Edward Ave after a new bridge is built.  
  • Officially, a truck route designation means trucks must stay on a truck route until they approach their destination.  They may then leave the truck route and take another (non truck route) street if that street is the shortest path to their destination.  It is quite unclear as to how many trucks would continue to find King Edward Ave as "the shortest path to their destination" even if King Edward was no longer designated as a truck route.  If this is so, an outright ban of trucks from King Edward Ave would be required to significantly reduce the number of trucks using this corridor. It should be noted that the Ottawa Official Plan has not contemplated such a measure (truck ban). 
  • The City of Gatineau, in response to the selection during Phase 1 of the Kettle Island corridor as the preferred location for a new bridge crossing, passed a resolution calling for the City of Ottawa to continue to allow trucks on King Edward because it would be unacceptable for all the trucks to be forced onto the Gatineau side of the proposed Kettle Island bridge
  • During Phase 1, the NCC and their consultants recommended that King Edward Ave remain open to trucks should a new bridge be built. 
  • The consultants then estimated based on computer modelling that at least 60% of trucks would continue (ie. prefer) to use King Edward if it remained open to trucks even if a new east end crossing were available. 
  • After allowing for projected growth to 2031, the Phase 1 consultant estimated 2590 trucks per day would use the King Edward corridor, essentially the same number as today. 
  • After the completion of Phase 1, the Board of Directors of the NCC passed a resolution directing the NCC to initiate a detailed study of the movement of commercial goods in the National Capital Region. This study has not yet been launched 
A more detailed description of the issues of trucks in downtown Ottawa can be found on the website of the King_Edward_Avenue_Task_Force.   

A more detailed analysis of the issues involved in diverting trucks from the downtown and the ability of the proposed corridors to provide the needed solution can be found here.

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The issue of the need to accommodate projected auto traffic 

  • All of the NCC consultant's traffic projections are based on figures in the City of Ottawa 2008 Transportation Master Plan which is based on a 2005 Origin-Destination travel survey and population and employment projections updated in 2007
  • The peak direction of car traffic is from Gatineau to Ottawa in the AM peak and Ottawa to Gatineau in the PM peak
  • The current peak traffic capacity of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge is listed as 4,725 cars per hour and that of all interprovincial bridges combined was stated in the Phase 1 final report as 12,365 cars per hour.
  • In the Phase 1 final report, the 2005 peak usage for all the bridges combined was listed as 95% of capacity.  (For the Macdonald-Cartier bridge the figure was 86% utilization which equates to a spare peak carrying capacity of 661 cars per hour)
  • The City of Ottawa projection for 2031 is for an additional 1600 crossings of the Ottawa River in the peak hour by motorized vehicle with an average of 1.2 persons per vehicle.  This represents a demand of 1,333 additional vehicles (across all the bridges) in the peak hour.
  • a subsequent region-wide travel survey undertaken in 2011 reported that the peak period number of trips from Gatineau to Ottawa (all trip types) had declined by 10% from the 2005 survey results.  It is unclear how the study team will incorporate this contrarian trend into their previous extrapolations for significant growth in total peak trips by 2031.
  • The terms of reference for this inter-provincial crossings project requires that the project create enough additional capacity for cars crossing the Ottawa River to meet the 2031 demands and still have a surplus capacity of 15% of the total cross-river traffic.
  • The above projections also assume an aggressive increase in the number of people using transit across the river from 5,100 in the peak hour in 2005 to 11,800 in 2031, an increase of 6,700.  
  • All of the above projections are based on City of Ottawa & Gatineau long term population and employment projections and detailed origin-destination travel surveys carried out once every 5 years.
  • These projections assume the number of jobs in the region grows at a faster pace than the population and that the growth in peak hour trips across the Ottawa river is higher than for both the overall regional population growth and employment growth.
A more detailed analysis of these projections and for another perspective on how to interpret them can be found here.

Other solutions that have been proposed 

  • A fourth bridge corridor option, commonly referred to as the “Canotek” option, has been proposed.
    •  It is located in the general vicinity of options 6 and 7 in the current study
    •  It would skirt the east side of Canotek Industrial Park and would cross the river immediately to the east of Lower Duck Island.  The purpose of this proposed new routing is avoid impact on the greenbelt by constructing the road on the west side of Green's creek
    • The routing on the Quebec side would pass through lands currently used as a quarry to Hwy 148, and then
    • follow Hwy 148 further eastward and then north through currently undeveloped lands to connect with Hwy 50 at the existing industrial area near blvd. de l'Aeroport. 
  • The consultants for the NCC appear to have accommodated this option in Ontario by widening Corridor 6 to include part of Canotek Industrial Park, but they have not included the area of this proposed route in the corridors they are considering in Quebec

  • A downtown bypass tunnel option, During Phase 1 of the study some residents proposed a 1.8 km tunnel under downtown streets, connecting the 417 via Nicholas (south of Laurier) to the southern end of Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. 
    • This option would have the potential to remove all through-traffic of heavy trucks from downtown streets and would accomplish this without re-routing any trucks to other neighbourhoods in the east end or requiring trucks to take a detour via an east end bridge.
    •  This option would also have the potential to remove through-traffic between the existing Macdonald-Cartier bridge and the 417 of up to 20,000 cars per day from those same streets, and would bypass 11 traffic lights encountered by those 20,000 daily drivers. 
    • This option was discounted from further analysis during Phase 1 because in the consultant’s opinion it did not address the need to accommodate the projected volumes of vehicle growth crossing the Ottawa river in the 20 to 50 year planning horizon

More details on these alternative can be found in the Alternatives section of this website.