City mulls new footbridge for Carleton, Vincent Massey Park

No more detours, no right hooks, no more drivers’ dirty looks?

That could well be the refrain from Carleton University campus sometime in the next decade if the city goes ahead with a new cycling and pedestrian bridge over the Rideau River.

On Tuesday, the federal government announced $775,000 for preliminary planning work on a footbridge between the school and Vincent Massey Park.

There’s already a bridge for the O-Train at that spot, and as the city plans for light rail-related rehabilitations it’s prudent to assess if a pedestrian connection can somehow be worked into the project, too, said transportation planning manager Vivi Chi.

"The light rail transit stations are designed to be multi-modal," Ms. Chi said in an email. "Without the (bridge), there is no direct cycling and walking access across the river."

Right now those cycling north to Carleton – or the Carleton O-Train station – have two poor choices for crossing the river: detour west to the Hog’s Back locks, or go east and take the Dunbar bridge on Bronson Avenue. That option’s tantamount to a death wish, said Capital Coun. David Chernushenko.

"If I were to rank all the bridges over the Rideau River, the Dunbar Bridge would be the worst,” he said.

Cyclists there contend with vehicles going 90 km/h or more. Mr. Chernushenko welcomed a multi-use connection attached to the O-Train span, which he said would give cyclists a safer, more convenient option.

River Coun. Riley Brockington, whose ward includes Confederation Heights south of the proposed bridge, said “there’s no doubt in my mind” it would be well-used.

The span would connect to the NCC’s river pathway network and a new multi-use pathway along the O-Train line down to Confederation station, Ms. Chi said.

The preliminary design work will help sort out when and how the bridge could be built, and how much it might cost.

This article originally appeared on on August 25.