OECA Column, August-September 2014: Construction Begins


This summer marked the beginning of a lengthy period of construction that will transform Old Ottawa East. It’s likely to be dirty, dusty, and disruptive but the community will be more liveable with amenities and services many people have long sought.

The rebuilding of Main Street and the MacIlraith-Smyth Bridge along with improvements to the western section of Lees Avenue will be a three-year project.

The Lees work – including new sidewalks, resurfacing and improved cyclist facilities – began just after Canada Day and will continue well into the fall. Coupled with the five-year closure of the 417 eastbound on-ramp and the three-month closure of the Lees 417 overpass, traffic on nearby streets, particularly on Evelyn and Rosemere, increased – to the dismay of residents.

Community pleas for measures to mitigate traffic impacts resulted in the erection of Local Traffic Only signs and a temporary 40km/hr speed zone on Evelyn during construction. Also at the suggestion of residents, the Lees construction trailer was located on a vacant lot rather than – as the city had proposed – on the much-fought-for green space just east of Springhurst Park.

On Main Street, sidewalks are being ripped up along much of the east side and on some of the west as Bell Canada replaces clay ducts with concrete ducts. Temporary asphalt sidewalks will be built on top of the new wires with the permanent, wider concrete sidewalks not going in until the rest of the roadway is replaced over the next two years. The Bell work should be completed in November.

Another major Main effort now underway is installation of the initial portion of new underground electrical cables that will serve the new LRT system and developments on the east side of Main. Much to the dismay of the OOECA Board, the city is unwilling to bury existing electrical wires along the central portion of Main even though it is burying the LRT and new development cables.

Of concern to residents will be the city’s plan for traffic during the two years of major construction. On one hand, the community association is pushing for ready access into our neighbourhoods. But it also wants to minimize traffic from outside the community that uses detours on side streets in Old Ottawa East. Another key consideration is ensuring the viability of community businesses during the construction. An open house is planned for early fall so residents can respond to the city’s traffic plans for Main Street construction.

Other construction of interest to Old Ottawa East residents is the completion of much-welcomed pedestrian safety improvements at the Elgin-Isabella intersection and a safe, signalized pedestrian crossing of Queen Elizabeth Drive at Fifth Avenue. The association is disappointed the National Capital Commission still has not identified funds or scheduled a comparable crossing at Clegg – Colonel By Drive despite giving our crossing a higher priority than the Queen Elizabeth – Fifth intersection.

Contaminated soil was found on the lands around Old Town Hall (61 Main Street) and a $104,000 clean-up was conducted. Fortunately, samples of the shallow soil collected within the vicinity of the playground structures did not contain any contaminants in excess of Ministry of the Environment standards. See the OOECA website (noted below) for additional details.

Contaminated soil was also found on the Oblate site during its new owner’s geotechnical work. Over the summer the full extent of contaminants was determined. The contamination resulted from the spread of coal ash on the extensive gardens the Oblates once had.

The Regional Group is producing detailed proposals for the Oblate lands. The draft concept plan shared with OOECA’s planning committee and SLOE was consistent with the community design plan. The evolving concept could be presented early this fal at either an OOECA Board meeting or a separate event.

For more details check out the OOECA website at: http://www.ottawaeast.ca/.

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