Albert street reconstruction (i)

Letter to Councilor Holmes re proposed Albert Street reconstruction:


755 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6R1
Eric Darwin, President

18 Feb 2011

Albert Street reconstruction planning:

At its last meeting, the DCA agreed to approach you with respect to ensuring that the reconstruction of Albert meets a variety of community and stakeholder needs rather than just the movement of traffic.

We ask that you consult with staff at the earlier possible opportunity to ensure that our concerns, outlined below, are included.

From the Ottawa budget documents:

This project involves the renewal of Albert Street between City Centre Ave & Bronson Ave. The scope of work includes full roadway, curb & sidewalk reconstruction. The existing water mains, valves, hydrants, and lead services will be replaced to the property line. The project will see the existing combined sewer replaced with new separate sanitary & storm sewers. The sewer house service connections will also be replaced to the property line. The current funding allocation will allow for the design of the rehabilitation of Albert St, including liaison with the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel design team. Reconstruction in a future year. The 2011 Total Project Estimate of $610K is comprised of: Roads - $140K, Sanitary Sewers - $170K, Storm Drainage - $120K & Water Mains - $180K. A portion of Sanitary Sewer component for this project is to be funded from the Development Charges By-Law No. 2009 - 216, reference items 10.074 and 10.179 on schedule B-17.

Albert is NOT part of a traditional main street designation. Albert St is a "Scenic Entry" from Empress to Bronson (OP) and a "Gateway" from Rochester to Bronson (OP Annex). These requirements must be incorporated into this plan.

Can we get the ped path on the north side widened and turned into a real two way MUP/bike lane/Bikewest? Should we plan for a MUP now but for eventual separated sidewalks and MUP?

Can we improve the awful sidewalk conditions on the south side, especially where OCH is installing the concrete walls in front of their projects? Improved lighting? trees? more trees? Will the city work with adjacent property owners to replace the mish-mash of ugly & collapsing retaining walls on the south side? The south side needs a coherent and functional design theme from Bayview to Bronson.

Can we prevent the repaving from turning it into a speedway? We are especially concerned that the addition of side bike lanes on the road may result in a total road width widening (as is proposed for Carling) which will add the bike lanes but at a terrible cost of a wider-looking road with all the deleterious side effects that come with a too-wide road. Can we – in conjunction with cycling groups -- look at alternative bike lane arrangements, so that the apparent road width is reduced? Recall that the Ottawa Cycling Plan calls for bike lanes on this stretch of Albert Street.

We need to ensure the Albert reconstruction considers and implements (with community consultation) the elimination of Commissioner between Slater and Albert, the relocation of Slater between Empress and Bronson, and the conversion of the former roadbed to a MUP path. These are requirements of the Escarpment Plan and need to be incorporated in this project.

We think there may also be opportunity to work on cutting through traffic off Booth by the careful influencing of the Albert-Booth intersection, ie persistently suggesting alternative configurations that meet our goals will solving some of the difficult traffic movements at this corner.

We note also that the City is simultaneously conducting a ped and cyclist access study to the proposed LeBreton transit station as part of DOTT. We must ensure the two are complimentary and that the intersection of Albert-Booth does not undo all the efforts to promote ped movements to the station.

We can compare the City’s call for Albert shown above, to the one for Rideau Street:

* Sidewalks, cycling facilities, and transit facilities;
* Opportunities for street amenities including street trees and other landscaping;
* On-street parking and loading spaces;
* Road structure and pavement;
* Traffic control signal system;
* Watermains, sanitary, storm and combined sewers;
* Lateral services to the property line;
* Utilities as required; and
* Street lighting and signage.

The Rideau Street call is much more “urban” and the Albert Street one is much more “traffic”. We want to prevent another Bronson fiasco where the terms of reference were already set out by time we heard of them, and are much too restrictive.

We are willing to work on a committee/advisory board to the city on making this street the main pedestrian, cycling, and car route into the core, beautiful and functional. We are less enthused if it is an adversarial deal like Bronson, but I will still be out front pushing the city.

We are concerned that the City make take the view that finishing the street is unnecessary, as its "temporary" until the flats are built out, and thus try to avoid landscaping, trees, lighting, sidewalks, etc. Residents in this area have been hearing that since 1980. The road design should be final enough as the LeBreton plans have all the key strategic elements identified. So, build it to last, incorporate the DOTT and Escarpment and other plan requirements, and landscape it so that we can promote walking and cycling and safe complete streets for this generation of residents.

We certainly don’t want to wait until the design staff at the city come to us with some road repaving scheme. I think we need to be in this from day 1. Can we get a sympathetic project leader? If not, can we insist that a real, experienced urban planner be put on the team to consider the urban context? Can we ensure the project is to be reviewed by the City’s new design review process?