Truck studies

The information on this page is taken from a 2007 MTO Roadside Truck Survey.    As of 2022,  there had been no attempts made to monitor changes to  Interprovincial Truck traffic in the NCR.   However, in Dec 2022 the NCC announced they would undertake an update of the 2007 Study sometime during 2023.

A clearer understanding of the origins and destinations of trucks crossing the Ottawa River is essential to understanding how any proposed inter-provincial project would perform as a solution to the downtown truck problem. This problem exists largely because the City has chosen to route virtually all inter-provincial truck traffic through some of Ottawa's busiest pedestrian streets and residential areas.  More information on how the City of Ottawa sets it's truck routes can be seen in this truck route policy document.

It is a common misconception that the majority of trucks traveling through the downtown are hauling long distance and can easily be diverted to bridges far east of the downtown.

The information used by the Study Team in the 2007-2013 Bridge Study Ph1 was o btained from an MTO roadside trucking survey which involved stopping and surveying a sampling of trucks using the Chaudiere and Macdonald-Cartier inter-provincial bridges during one day in 2007.  The results of this survey appear in a report dated Feb 2011 and which subsequently was posted on the website. 

This document contains information such as:

  - total number of trucks on Chaudiere and Macdonald-Cartier bridge, by truck type, by time of day

  - origins and destinations of truck journeys on these bridges

  - journey lengths in kms

Some of the observations recorded in this document are detailed in spreadsheet format below.

Truck ODs

This illustrates clearly that the majority of interprovincial truck traffic (55%) is local within the National Capital Region and only 6% is long distance hauling that transits through the downtown.  This information highlights the challenges (extra distances to be traveled for National Capital Region businesses) that will be encountered in trying to re-route the majority of truck traffic over bridges farther from the downtown.

Other interesting data taken from this report include:

1. Total Volumes:



 M-C        =2630  


Ttl            = 3760  (9% higher than previous study in 1999)



2. Truck Type:  3760 total:


2-axle= 790 (29% of total)

3-axle= 650 (17% of total)

tractor= 2320 (62% total) ... ie. '18 wheelers'


This distribution by truck type was close to the same for Chaudiere vs Macdonald-Cartier bridge



3.  Trip Type:


2080  within NCR (55% of total)  and of these 936 (45%) were tractor trailers

1450  between NCR and external location and of these 1160 (80%) were tractor trailers

  230  transiting through NCR from external origins/destinations (6%) and of these 90% were tractor trailers



4. Trip Lengths:


1520 = < 35 kms

 820  = 35 - 100 kms

1420  =  > 100 kms



Implications For Truck Routings via Proposed East End Bridge

An outstanding unanswered question is what percentage of these truck trips would be shortened vs lengthened (and lengthened by how much) if a new bridge in the east end was the required route for trucks.  

Late in the Phase 2B of the Study the consultants indicated that with a new bridge at Kettle Is. about 40% of the current downtown interprovincial trucks would voluntarily choose to use this new bridge.  Thus it would  be reasonable to assume that according to their analysis forcing trucks to use an east end bridge would mean longer truck journeys for 60% of trucks vs using the current downtown routes available to them.


An estimate of what the business costs would be of the truck trip 'lengthenings' for those 60% potentially forced to take a longer journey over a Kettle Is. bridge was never included in any of the analysis.

This needs to be discussed with the business community before any decisions are made regarding the viability of banning trucks from King Edward Ave.  (as the City of Ottawa has indicated it intends to do) once a new bridge is built 

The MTO document which formed the basis for much of the Bridge Study Trucking analysis  can be downloaded from this link:  2007 Inter-provincial Roadside Truck Survey.

This chart taken from the Survey document gives a breakdown of number of trucks on the Macdonald-Cartier vs Chaudiere bridge and further classifies them by type of truck.

The next two charts give a sense of the length of these truck trips.  The first chart is a breakdown for the 55% of trucks (2,080) which have both their origin and destination within the National Capital Region.  It shows that 66% of these trucks have journey lengths of less than 35km.

This second chart shows the trip lengths for the remaining 45% of trucks (1,680) which are classified as having one or both of their destinations outside of the National Capital Region.

From these 2 charts we can conclude that on average 2,340 of the 3,760 truck trips per day through the downtown are trips which are 100km or less in length.

 Adding 10-35 kms to many of these trips by re-routing them over an east end bridge may result in a considerable cost increase to businesses.  A clear understanding of these costs and and a consultation with affected business interests should be an important step in any further analysis of the assessment process.

Some other detailed technical documents concerning truck movements that were also provided in the 2007-2013 Bridge Study Phase 1 include:

1. A prediction based on a computer simulation of the number of trucks that would be using different roads leading to and from the inter-provincial bridges (assuming a bridge was built at Kettle Island) in 2031.  The  numbers on this chart are in terms of number of heavy trucks per day.  This document is useful in illustrating the number of trucks that would prefer to continue to use the current downtown route even after a new east end bridge is built.  It is also useful in understanding how many trucks will be routed through east end communities in Ontario and Quebec.

Please note that the best way to view this document is to download it to your computer and view in in Adobe Acrobat reader at 200% magnification.  Access the Truck movement chart. 

2. An older version of the Interprovincial Roadside Truck Survey(1999-2000) from 1999-2000.

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