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Terms of Reference


Commentary


The text of the original terms of reference from 2006-2007 is provided below.  These were never subject to public consultation. There are two key observations to make once this text is digested as a whole:

A. Clearly a new major arterial bridge was contemplated right from the beginning.  It must interconnect inter-provincial freeways, act as a truck route, and be designed for high volume (ie at least 4 lanes divided roadways). (requirement 3, 4, 5, and 6). This significantly limited the range of options that were considered as part of this Study.

B. No quantification of the truck solution required.  (requirement 4).  Although capacity to act as a truck route is a requirement, there is no mention of the downtown truck problem in Ottawa or the extent to which the project is required to solve this downtown truck problem.  What critical success factors will be applied to evaluate alternatives with regards to solving Ottawa's downtown truck problem? (such quantitative targets are specified for accommodating car traffic (requirement 2 and 7) but not for trucks).  In general, these terms of reference do not reflect the intention of the City of Ottawa Official Plan and the 2000 OMB ruling to remove trucks from King Edward, Rideau, and Waller corridor. 

RESULT: 
The use of quantitative objectives for auto demand (requirement 7) has been used to screen out alternatives (such as a downtown bypass tunnel to existing bridges) which would provide a superior solution to many of the other requirements (at minimum 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9).  Yet the lack of quantitative targets for truck solutions (requirement 4) serves to obscure the shortcomings of all of the short-listed bridge options that are currently being carried forward.

In addition to the above issues, as the study has progressed and more details of the proposed bridge  corridors have emerged it appears that some of these requirements will be difficult to achieve.  (More details below).  That leads us to believe there is good merit in revisiting the subject of  'what are the key problems we are trying to solve'.  This could lead to a different terms of reference and a re-imagining of the 'basket of solutions' (requirement 12) which would lead to the best possible outcome for the National Capital Region.

The study team however is not interested in entering into this dialogue with the public.

Phase 1 original Terms of Reference


  1. Efficiently accommodate NCR interprovincial travel demand (all modes including pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles);
  2. Define an interprovincial transportation plan considering quality of life and economic objectives of the communities in the 20 year and 50 year planning horizons;
  3. Ensure interprovincial access between the primary provincial/municipal highway systems (freeways/expressways) in the Cities of Gatineau and Ottawa;
  4. Provide a truck route, including the possible modification of existing routes, that can link to existing truck routes on both sides of the river;
  5. Minimize community effects by linking to freeways, expressways or arterial roadways (i.e. not local or collector roads which were not designed for high volumes of traffic or truck traffic);
  6. Provide a high mobility arterial roadway;
  7. Meet Level of Service (LOS) for the Ottawa River screenline of LOS D which will be defined as 85% of the capacity of the entire screenline;
  8. Complement transit objectives in accordance with the official plans of the Cities of Ottawa and Gatineau;
  9. Take into consideration the natural, socioeconomic and environmental impacts;
  10. Balance transportation objectives with environmental objectives and effects; and
  11. Be a good societal investment i.e. the economic benefits must outweigh the costs of the alternative. Crossing alternatives that cannot meet these criteria may be screened as described in Section 4.3.2
  12. Meeting these objectives may lead to a basket of solutions that provide a strategic plan

Terms of Reference re-visited:


Comments are embedded below after each point of the the above Terms of Reference. These are based on new understandings that have emerged as the study has progressed.

1. Efficiently accommodate NCR interprovincial travel demand (all modes including pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles); 

      - In Phase 1 there was no analysis or description of how a proposed heavy traffic 4-lane arterial
        bridge which includes a high volume of truck traffic would adequately accommodate pedestrians 
        and cyclists.

2. Define an inter-provincial transportation plan considering quality of life and economic objectives of the communities in the 20 year and 50 year planning horizons;

- Other important aspects of a transportation plan (including transit, and goods movement) have been separated into different study processes and there has been little visibility into how these distinct study processes are being combined so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- The decision of where and how to build a bridge as significant as the one currently proposed should come as a final step once it is clear how such a bridge complements the bigger picture. 

3. Ensure inter-provincial access between the primary provincial/municipal highway systems (freeways/expressways) in the Cities of Gatineau and Ottawa;

- by requiring access to the existing freeway systems the project incurs expensive costs to build new interchanges and in the case of the 417/174 it appears that the additional traffic to/from a bridge may require the addition of lanes on these roads.  All of these serve to increase the cost of the project and have a negative impact on existing Ottawa traffic.
- as linkages between the existing freeways all of the corridors are lengthy (Option 5  = 10km, Option 6 = 7+kms,  Option 7= 6+ kms).  In contrast the journey between these freeways today through Ottawa's downtown is only ~ 2 kms.   As alternatives to today's access all corridors suffer from serious drawbacks
- This raises the question of whether the primary reason for this requirement is it's need to serve as a truck route and/or major commuting artery.  If these requirements were dropped then a completely different approach to solving the truck problem could be envisaged.

4. Provide a truck route, including the possible modification of existing routes, that can link to existing truck routes on both sides of the river;

- the requirement to be a major truck route is a significant factor in neighborhood opposition to the proposed bridges.  The presence of large numbers of heavy trucks is a serious degradation to adjacent communities.
- all 3 corridors due to their distance to the east plus the distance to be traversed between the freeways, and the number of signalized intersections to be crossed represent the potential for significant inconveniences for many trucks that may be forced to use them.  It is unclear today how effective these will be as truck routes and the negative economic impact this will impose on business
- all 3 of the proposed corridors are poor routes for heavy trucks (length, number of traffic lights encountered, existing residential areas, size of hills encountered).
- This raises the question of whether trucks should be dealt with in another way than via a new bridge.

5. Minimize community effects by linking to freeways, expressways or arterial roadways (i.e. not local or collector roads which were not designed for high volumes of traffic or truck traffic);

- to various extents all of the currently shortlisted corridors pass through existing communities especially on the Quebec side.  A drive along these corridors will reveal the challenges to using them to carry thousands of additional cars at peak hours and thousands of heavy trucks over the course of a day
- it will be very difficult to minimize community effects in these corridors for the kind of bridge envisioned (high auto volume, significant numbers of heavy trucks)


6. Provide a high mobility arterial roadway;

- the highest mobility corridors are the ones furthest east (and would be attractive to the lowest number of cars). 
- The more central corridors (in both Ontario and Quebec) follow existing roadways in residential areas and their mobility are limited by a significant number of signalized intersections. 
- it is hard to see how the short listed corridors will be high mobility arterials

7. Meet Level of Service (LOS) for the Ottawa River screenline of LOS D which will be defined as 85% of the capacity of the entire screenline;

- translating this technical jargon one understands that the effect of this requirement is to say that the project must carry a high volume of cars. 
- it also seems unrealistic to require this project to provide a benefit that eliminates all peak hour congestion across the Ottawa River.  This is no longer a reasonable requirement for rush hour conditions in the center of 1 million person + metropolitan areas

8. Complement transit objectives in accordance with the official plans of the Cities of Ottawa and Gatineau;

- a new bridge which provides a 15% over capacity at peak hour as set out in the above requirement will likely do more to impair the ability to meet aggressive transit targets than it will to serve transit targets.  Such a car oriented bridge encourages individuals to commute by car.

9. Take into consideration the natural, socioeconomic and environmental impacts;

- for an east end bridge project in particular these impacts are particularly significant as all of the corridors at one or the other points along their routes impact existing established communities and significant undeveloped natural areas

10. Balance transportation objectives with environmental objectives and effects; and

11. Be a good societal investment i.e. the economic benefits must outweigh the costs of the alternative. Crossing alternatives that cannot meet these criteria may be screened as described in Section 4.3.2

- there has been little discussion thus far in the process that would enable an informed public discussion of the trade-offs the current proposals represent between 'societal investment, economic benefit, and the full range of alternatives'

12. Meeting these objectives may lead to a basket of solutions that provide a strategic plan

- to date no basket of solutions has been put forward.  Instead only a single high volume and expensive bridge has been proposed.