OTTAWA, ON – The National Capital Commission (NCC) and the City of Ottawa have confirmed that reducing the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway from four to two lanes is off the table for at least another decade.
In a letter to Carleton Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre dated July 15, 2016, the NCC stated that any decisions regarding reducing the Parkway can only come after Stage Two of light trail transit (LRT) is in operation in 2023, and even then they will need to work with city planners and traffic analysts “in the order of years” to determine whether reducing the Parkway is feasible.
Chris Swail, Director of LRT Stage Two at the City of Ottawa, also confirmed this approach in an August 10 email to Poilievre, saying that the Parkway will be repaved as four lanes after the LRT Stage Two tunnel is dug underneath it, and that any reductions would come only after traffic analysis was conducted.
The NCC first mentioned the idea of reducing the Parkway from four to two lanes following public consultations in March 2016. Several members of the public were skeptical of whether this was a good idea, and Poilievre wrote to the NCC and their minister, Melanie Joly, urging them to not reduce the Parkway.
According to an analysis by engineering and management firm Morrison Hershfield, as many as 1,400 vehicles per hour use the Parkway. Reducing the Parkway by 50% could push as many as 550 vehicles per hour onto other, already-crowded west-east roads, such as Richmond Road, Carling Avenue, and Highway 417.
According to letters published in the Ottawa Citizen from residents, reducing the Parkway is “a naïve…half-baked notion,” ”utterly daft,” and would further deter residents from going downtown.
“I congratulate the NCC for taking the Parkway reduction off the table for at least a decade,” Poilievre said. “This is good news for the thousands of commuters who use the Parkway every day to get downtown from neighbourhoods like Barrhaven, Stittsville, Manotick, Bells Corners, Nepean, and Kanata.”
“Stage Two of light rail will change Ottawa’s traffic patterns, and once Stage Two is operational in 2023, it will take years of studying those shifts before a decision can be made on whether it’s a good idea to start deleting Parkway lanes. That means we might not see a decision made until 2026 or even 2030.”
“We should also consider common sense and value for taxpayers’ money: we’re going to have a newly repaved Parkway in 2023 – would it really make sense to rip it up only a few years later?” asked Poilievre.