Plan to build a Rideau River footbridge gains endorsements, but issues remain

John Dance

The footbridge under construction at Carleton University will cost about $5 million. A comparable bridge could be built over the Rideau River near the foot of Clegg Street.

The footbridge under construction at Carleton University will cost about $5 million. A comparable bridge could be built over the Rideau River near the foot of Clegg Street.

The idea of a simple footbridge over the Rideau River near the foot of Clegg Street received support from several parties over the last two months.

During the election campaign, Councillor Shawn Menard committed to “advocate for a pedestrian/bike bridge over the Rideau River from Clegg to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway and connecting with the hospital.”

Tom Scott, OOECA transportation and infrastructure chair, also made the request that the bridge be included in the City’s new active transportation plan.

“An active transportation bridge in this location [near the foot of Clegg] could play a role in the City’s ultimate pedestrian and cycling networks, as illustrated in the Hurdman transit-oriented development plan and as described in your submission,” responded Vivi Chi, associate general manager of the City’s planning, infrastructure and economic development branch.

“Within the Transportation Master Plan Part 2, we plan to update the ‘ultimate’ map of active transportation structures,” she continued. “We expect to show the proposed Rideau River Footbridge on this map as you have suggested – it would be shown as an unfunded project that is part of the longterm vision for the network. This keeps the concept and desire line visible as the plan is updated in the years to come.”

Further possible support may come from newly elected Alta Vista Councillor Marty Carr. Carr was formerly the president of the Alta Vista Community Association and in this capacity supported the idea of a new footbridge over the Rideau River.

Despite such support, there are many issues that would have to be resolved before such a footbridge is built. An environmental assessment will be required along with lots of consultation. And with tighter municipal financial capacity, it may be years before this footbridge becomes a reality.

The Flora Footbridge’s $19 million price tag was borne primarily by the federal and provincial governments. However, the cost of a footbridge over the river could be much less as evidenced by the $5 million cost of the new footbridge over the river at Carleton University.

Scott suggests that a feasibility study and an environmental assessment should be done as soon as possible so that the project would be “shovel ready” in the event that either the provincial or the federal government announced a new capital infrastructure grant program.

As with Flora, both the provincial and federal governments could play a key role in getting this proposal off the ground.

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