Ottawa Prepared to Study Downtown Truck Tunnel

Post date: Nov 19, 2013 6:39:43 PM

On Nov 15 2013, the City's Transportation Committee met to review the draft 2013 Transportation Master Plan which outlines the transportation vision for the City to 2031 and beyond. One item that is always mentioned in these Transportation Master Plans is the need for a solution to the downtown interprovincial truck problem. In the past that solution has always been listed as a new interprovincial bridge somewhere in the City's east end. In a surprising move, a motion was tabled and passed at this meeting indicating the City was prepared to commit to funding 50% of a 750,000$ feasibility study for a downtown tunnel (to carry trucks) connecting the 417 to the Macdonald-Cartier bridge contingent on the Province of Ontario committing to be a co-funder of the study which is to be led by the City.

This is a welcome move by the City of Ottawa especially in light of the collapse in June 2013 of the initiative to build a new bridge across the Ottawa River. While Sustainable Solutions was a participant in that interprovincial bridge study, it had lobbied during the past 5 years that an analysis of a downtown tunnel between the 417 and the existing Macdonald-Cartier bridge should be part of the overall assessment process related to a potential new interprovincial bridge. This was largely because it was becomimg increasingly clear that a new east end bridge would at best be only a partial solution to the downtown truck problem and a solution that required a highly unpopular shifting of trucks into other residential areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. In response the Study partners issued a short tunnel memo which discounted a tunnel option claiming that it was not feasible and did not meet the projected 2031 needs to enable more cars to cross the Ottawa River. Sustainable Solutions (as well as other community groups) was never satisfied with the level of analysis that was undertaken as part of that memo.

The Nov 15th motion of the City of Ottawa indicates that the City is now prepared to do a more detailed feasibility analysis of this tunnel option.