Posted by: Shawn Menard
From Shawn Menard’s Capital Ward Bulletin, an announcement about changes coming to Bank Street in Old Ottawa South and to Billings Bridge.
On September 13, 2023, City Council approved the addition of protected intersections at Riverside Drive and Riverdale Avenue and a safer Billing’s Bridge with added bike lanes. The design will include three motor vehicle lanes, including dedicated right turn lanes at each end of the bridge. This project will be completed along with the Bank Street renewal, all the way to Walkley Road and will complement the improvements we made to the Bank Street Canal Bridge last term of council. By combining the work on the bridge with the larger Bank Street re-construction project, we are saving money with efficiencies and limiting construction-related disruptions.
Coming from Old Ottawa South, there will be bike lanes added to Bank Street between the bridge and Chesley Avenue for better connectivity with Cameron Avenue. These will connect to bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and safer vehicle travel lanes all the way to Walkley Road.
This is a significant safety improvement for our communities and for the city. From 2015 to 2019 this area of the Billings Bridge and Riverside saw almost 300 traffic collisions, many of them exceptionally serious. In 2013, a resident tragically lost her life.
In the coming years, this area will see more development, with towers being built on either side of Bank Street at Riverside. With more people coming into the area, it is imperative that we make Bank Street safer so that people may travel easily and comfortably between Heron Park and Alta Vista, and Old Ottawa South to the Glebe.
We first called for improvements to this bridge years ago and we have worked continuously with staff to come to a solution. When Alta Vista Ward Councillor Marty Carr was elected last year, she joined in the call for a safer bridge.
Residents have been calling for these improvements, too and showed up during public consultations. Now that the plan is approved by council, staff will begin working on the detailed designs for the bridge. During this process, we will be seeking proper separation for drivers, pedestrians and bikes, so that everyone on the bridge feels safe. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this outcome.
Alongside the improvements to the Billings Bridge, the city also instituted a new bus-only lane on Bank northbound in the afternoon peak period. Bicyclists will also be permitted to use this lane. During this time, there will be no parking on the east side of Bank.
Originally, the city intended to have the bus-only lane be in effect between 2:00 and 6:30 pm, Monday to Friday. This caused much concern from residents and businesses. We reviewed the data about when buses were most impacted, and worked with the mayor and council to pass a motion to reduce the timeframe for the bus-only lane to 2:30 to 4:30 pm, when data showed the problem was the worst. This change should minimize the effect to small businesses and the community.
We worked closely with residents, businesses and city staff to come to this compromise, balancing the needs of transit riders, the local community and businesses, and we appreciate everyone’s effort to come to this solution.
More information available on the project website.