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[Planned] Transitway Project: Baseline

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Baseline Road rapid bus plans move ahead

Construction could begin by 2020

By Kate Porter, CBC News Posted: Feb 01, 2017 2:26 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 01, 2017 3:42 PM ET

Ottawa's transportation committee approved a design Wednesday that would create a rapid transit route for buses down the middle of Baseline Road.

If federal and provincial funding comes through, construction could begin by 2020 on the $140-million stretch between Baseline Station at Algonquin College and the Heron Station near Billings Bridge.

By separating buses from regular traffic, giving them priority at intersections, and making them stop only 14 times on that stretch, transportation staff hope to save riders 6 and a half minutes.

Baseline Road Rapid Transit Corridor median

A rendering of the Baseline Road Rapid Transit Corridor with station on a median. Vivi Chi, the city's manager of transportation planning, said the cost of first phase of the project is pegged at $160 million. (City of Ottawa)

A second leg from Baseline Station, west to Bayshore Shopping Centre, is on the books to be built after 2031.

The city's transportation manager, John Manconi, called a rapid corridor for buses on a major east-west artery a "golden opportunity" that would "unleash the bottlenecks" for drivers, and speed up the bus ride to boost transit ridership.

Transportation committee chair Coun. Keith Egli underlined that government funding hinges on the project being an "enhancement," so the stops can't simply stay at the curb as they always have.

Councillors supported the overall idea of the project, but debated the trade-off that would see seniors cross lanes of traffic to stations spaced farther apart, in favour of a route that would mean a faster trip for transit riders overall.


Seniors struggle with stop spacing

Barbara Giles was one of three residents who went to city hall on Feb. 1 to share her concerns with councillors, mainly about the stops being farther apart and placed in the median rather than at the curb.

Giles is a senior citizen and regular transit rider, and says at her condominium houses many senior citizens use a walker or cane.

Barbara Giles, condo resident along Ottawa's Baseline Road

Barbara Giles, who lives in a condo near the future Baseline rapid bus route, described the difficulties of seniors who ride the bus to Ottawa city councillors on Feb. 1, 2017.

This winter, she struggled to get home after getting off a bus and being faced with a metre-high bank of snow left behind by a plow.

"I could not get over it. I was teetering over back and forth. Finally a van stopped, and a gentleman got out, took my hand and helped me over the snowbank," Giles described to councillors.

"If this happens on Baseline, the van could not have stopped."

Her councillor, College ward's Rick Chiarelli, said the area near Baseline Road and Clyde Avenue has one of the highest concentrations of seniors in Ottawa and felt the city could do more to shorten the walk for seniors.


Egli said transportation staff did listen to seniors, and alleviated a lot of their concerns in a meeting last Friday by promising better snow removal and more benches.

15 private properties to be expropriated

Chiarelli also spoke in defence of the 15 private property owners, whose homes the city would need to buy in order to build the Baseline transit corridor.

He wanted to be sure that they wouldn't be left in limbo for years if the city doesn't manage to get the project off the ground and purchase their homes for market value by 2018, which is the city's goal.

Councillors also expressed concern about the city needing to expropriate a strip of the Central Experimental Farm.

"If we just keep eating it up bit by bit and edge by edge, ultimately one day we'll wake up and say 'What happened to all the green space in the urban areas of our city?'" said Coun. Diane Deans.

She suggested the city look for ways to create new green space elsewhere, in order to compensate for the land being taken for the bus corridor. 

Staff said they had not yet looked at that idea with respect to this project, but that they are working with the federal government on a "shelter belt" of trees and shrubs that could protect the farm from salt, snow spray, and erosion.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada — the federal government department that owns the Central Experimental Farm — told CBC News in an email that it "supports the new transit corridor" and has agreed to make farm land available for it. 

The department said it has been working with the city to create a "buffer zone" between the farm and the road.

"The width and the landscape features will be tailored ... to minimize impact of existing research field and achieve the desired results," the department said.

The report directing staff to start the environmental assessment process for the Baseline Road bus rapid transit corridor goes to full city council for a vote on Feb. 8.

Baseline Road Rapid Transit Corridor

The proposed 13.8-kilometre Baseline Road Rapid Transit Corridor. (City of Ottawa)


Nom nom

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The problem with this is, city council has "screwed' the home owners on Baseline?


Simply put if you owned a house on Baseline(the area effected) and want to sell my house now not in the time they want to build this try selling your house when the potential buyer might have it exportation in the trime they want to build this?


Basically they told the home owners "we might buy your entire house or just a portion of your front lawn? They have now made it difficult for some one to sell there house presently in 2017!!!


Yeah people say build it, but if you owned a home there presently and wanted to sell it now not in years to come people won't buy your home!!There more then judst building this iin 10 years look at the opresent and se it from the home owners pointb of view. If the city wants to buiild this then pay the home owners now foor the prouty and not in 10 years!!

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Why anyone would want a home that backs right onto a busy roadway in the first place is beyond me. The road noise would drive me nuts. I live two street-widths over from a busy roadway and even then it often drives me nuts!

Regardless, this is what happens when you want to add transit to a very heavily car-oriented development. Stuff has got to go to make way for it. Sucks for the homeowners but that is the way that it is. Designing it so as to avoid all of that is going to create a hellacious mess of a right-of-way that the whole thing will be worthless and it may then also disrupt the cars too!

And speaking of worthless, with regards to the complaints about stop spacing, isn't one of the whole points of a BRT to be "rapid"? In order to be any semblance of "rapid", you have to be able to move vehicles at a respectable speed. Having all of the stops like they are now will defeat that and, once again, basically make the whole thing worthless for the amount of money being spent. Then again, even a few dedicated bus lanes like what are planned as part of the BRT would be an improvement to the disaster that is Baseline.

If we designed things for the present, everything would be completely useless in a few months to a few years and it would have to be re-developed, further adding unnecessary costs as opposed to just building the damn thing completely and correctly to start with. Look no further than the Transitway and Confederation Line; there is no reason that a bus tunnel couldn't have been built (other than cost, which is completely moot at this point, and dealing with the diesel exhaust) which would have then saved big time on the cost of the Confederation Line, or that most of it was built as LRT or metro to begin with!

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I agree with you HB_1024 the spacing has to be wide enough for some speed and think it's appropriate. 

Baseline is a major boulevard and we can't treat it like some minor road with a stop every second street. 

As to the homeowners that MCIBUS mentions it is sad indeed. And normally with a 2031 horizon I would think it would not get built. 

But both senior Gov'ts have announced funding for transit projects, I can see this getting fully funded real quick and in service within 2-3 years for phase 1. Phase 2 that's a different story.

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The stop spacing is actually pretty close for a rapid transit project; seems to average about 350m-500m for most of the route. By contrast, the Transitway is typically 700m-1km, and local buses are about 200m-250m.

As for the homeowners, I wouldn't cry for them. They're getting very generous compensation, considerably above market value. A bunch of homeowners along corners are getting $50,000 for about 20% of their front lawn. That's a pretty damn good deal.

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55 minutes ago, 1overcosc said:

The stop spacing is actually pretty close for a rapid transit project; seems to average about 350m-500m for most of the route. By contrast, the Transitway is typically 700m-1km, and local buses are about 200m-250m.


I agree with you. Ideally that's what it would be.

However this is both an arterial and a local route hence why I was happy about the spacing. 

On a two lane route where overtaking won't be possible it was not possible to have proper BRT spacing. This project is trying to do both. It could be better but could have been worse. 

Hopefully by then we will have some battery electric bus on that corridor 

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