The 10-year, $2.5 billion plan to expand Ottawa’s rail system may include five new stations on the stretch that will take riders to the city’s south end but a stop at the airport won’t be one of them.
© File photo
Ottawa International Airport.
By Jacob Serebrin
City staff decided taking the city’s north-south rail line, the O-Train, to the airport wasn’t worth the cost and would mean less frequent service for area commuters.
Many of the city’s tourism players had been awaiting the city’s next move when it comes to major transit investments in the hopes the airport, a major hub for bringing visitors to the capital, would be included on one of the rail lines.
Now it appears that it won’t be happening any time soon. The recently tabled Transportation Master Plan, a major document that plans how the city is going to spend money on transit and other initiatives, is supposed to dictate what will be a priority for the next several decades.
The report to councillors said staff examined a number of possibilities, including running a “spur line” that would jut out from the existing tracks and re-aligning the corridor so it went to the airport instead of Riverside South.
Instead they’ve decided to keep the O-Train corridor along its current path – while building an extension to the south and new stations at places such as Gladstone, Walkley and Bowesville – and continue to service the airport with buses.
The plan also calls for widening the road that takes travellers from the airport to downtown, the Ottawa Airport Parkway, to four lanes from Brookfield to Hunt Club Roads between 2014 and 2019. It would then widen the rest of it between 2026 and 2031.
The Ottawa International Airport Authority declined an interview request from OBJ last week because they are still studying the report.
However Mark Laroche, president and CEO of the airport authority, told CBC Ottawa that the debate isn’t over.
“There may be possibilities where a better connection to light rail, maybe a spur, is not announced at this time but maybe there is room for improvement on that plan,” the broadcaster quotes him as saying.