Mayor willing to consider airport rail link

OBJ Staff
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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Monday he’s open to building a rail link to the airport – as long as it doesn’t slow down residential service.

(File photo)

The Ottawa International Airport Authority criticized the mayor’s new transportation plan after it failed to include a long discussed link to the airport as part of the O-Train expansion.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr. Watson said he’s planning to meet with airport CEO Mark Laroche and to fund an environmental assessment “to explore the feasibility of a rail link to the airport,” once council approves the transportation plan.

“Critical to this analysis would be identifying a future potential alignment to the airport that would serve to maximize ridership to and from the airport and surrounding employment uses,” Mr. Watson said in the statement.

“However, such an alignment cannot compromise peak residential LRT service planned for the fast growing communities of Barrhaven and Riverside South.”

See also: Mayor proposes $2.5B light-rail buildout by 2023.


Organizations: Ottawa International Airport Authority

Geographic location: Barrhaven

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Recent comments

  • Barry McKay
    November 07, 2013 - 13:05

    What the article doesn't mention is that Mayor Watson also said, that any LRT extension to the airport would have to be funded by the Airport Authority. Does this also mean that the Authority will retain the revenue the Airport extension will generate?

  • Kevin
    November 06, 2013 - 12:47

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I am not convinced that terminating the north/south end of the LRT at the airport is a good idea; it comes down to what is the long term plan for light rail in the capital. The problem with putting the southern terminus at the airport is the location of where it would be, pretty in the middle of the northern end of the airport. If the intent is to eventually put housing south of the airport, or to extend the LRT to become a regional, not local, transportation backbone, then how does the line get extended to the south when the time comes? Off hand I can think of four mechanisms, one of which the airport authority won't like. 1) Ensure that the line, as it approaches the airport terminal, comes from the west in a large loop so that it is going east/west in front of the airport terminal. This allows the extension to go to the east around the end of the runway. 2) Drive a tunnel under the airfield (and possibly the airport terminal), coming back onto grade south of the airport. 3) Turn the line going to the airport into a spur line, and the main line goes where the current plan is. 4) Drop the line from South Keys to the airport and service the airport with dedicated shuttle buses. One other option is for the city and the airport authority to meet in the middle; run the line through a point close to or at the east end of the airfield, and go underground for a short distance to ensure clearance under the runway approach. The airport authority then builds an annex at that location which has dedicated shuttles to/from the airport terminal. Should the airport have service? I would think that is highly desirable. However, what is the cost, both in terms of direct costs to the municipality for construction and in terms of future revenue for the city? Is it a change from the normal transit thinking in Ottawa of getting workers to/from downtown? Yes.

  • Greg Barnstable
    November 05, 2013 - 11:45

    Either the Mayor has no clue of the positive impact the airport and its airline and local transit communications have on the business climate of the city or he is playing coy to pressure the airport authority and federal government to commit more money for the rail system, Either way, he is not playing a big boys game. (The airport link) "cannot compromise peak residential LRT service"? Get real, Mr. Watson. The lack of an airport link will compromise business growth and reinforces the view that Ottawa is a business backwater. Start talking like you know that and if money is your big concern, say so. Say that you expect all stakeholders to put cash on the table.

  • Laurent Saumure
    November 05, 2013 - 11:29

    I think that it is a must do for the Ottawa International airport