Pedestrian safety on Lees Bridge questioned

John Dance

Denis Rancourt, shown here with his daughter’s dog, Chula on the Lees Avenue Bridge over the Queensway, says the parapet separating pedestrians (and dogs) from the drop below should have a railing on top, as required in the relevant provincial structural manual. The second picture shows, as a stark contrast, the new barrier on the Lees Avenue sidewalk that separates pedestrians from the LRT line.  Photo by John Dance

Denis Rancourt, shown here with his daughter’s dog, Chula on the Lees Avenue Bridge over the Queensway, says the parapet separating pedestrians (and dogs) from the drop below should have a railing on top, as required in the relevant provincial structural manual. The second picture shows, as a stark contrast, the new barrier on the Lees Avenue sidewalk that separates pedestrians from the LRT line.
Photo by John Dance

The reconstructed Lees Avenue overpass of Highway 417 is unsafe for pedestrians and does not meet approved standards, in the view of Old Ottawa resident Denis Rancourt of Simcoe Street. The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), however, disagrees.

”The situation is a grave public danger that could cause death and a major freeway accident.” Rancourt recently wrote to the Ministry.

In his research of the matter, Rancourt discovered that the province’s Structural Manual for the Highway Standards Branch of the MOTC specifies in its “bridges with pedestrian sidewalks” section that “Barriers installed on pedestrian sidewalks should have a handrail.” But the new bridge has no handrails.

Photo by John Dance

Photo by John Dance


According to the Ministry’s manual, a handrail “provides a safety ‘grip’ for pedestrians in case they slip, makes it difficult for people to walk on top and adds some aesthetic value.”

The new overpass was built in 2014 and the bridge it replaced did have a handrail on top. Similarly, sidewalks on overpasses over Highway 401 in and around Toronto have handrails on top of the concrete wall.

To date, MOTC’s response to Rancourt has been that the height of the parapet wall on the Lees Avenue Bridge meets the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code standard.

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