City hopes to have downtown tunnel built by 2017
The City of Ottawa says it hopes to have an underground tunnel running through the city's downtown core from Lebreton Flats to the University of Ottawa by 2017.
The city unveiled its $1.4-billion transit plan on Wednesday. The main component of the plan would move people by light rail along 3.2 kilometres of track in downtown Ottawa, relieving congestion from the city's busy downtown streets.
"This is going to be built. This is a train that's not going to be stopped," said Coun. Alex Cullen, chair of the city's transit committee.
The total project includes 12.5 kilometres of light rail track that would extend from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Road with 13 transit stations along the route.
In terms of the downtown tunnel, city planners recommend an above-ground station at Lebreton Flats and four other stations located underground at Lyon/Bay, O'Connor/Metcalfe, the Rideau Centre and the University of Ottawa.
Although the city is yet to confirm federal or provincial funding for the project, city councillors say they're confident they'll get the funding they need to move the project forward.
"We're making steady and positive progress and I believe firmly at the end of the day they will be partners - strong partners at the end of this plan," said Coun. Peter Hume.
But not everyone supports the plan. A group representing the concerns of downtown businesses says a plan to veer the tracks north at Kent Street could hurt business on Rideau Street.
"We'd like to see them to continue that to corner of Metcalfe and then veer off north. The reason is, this would put the station a bit farther south and it adds about 15,000 people within 300 metres," said Hume Rogers of the Downtown Coalition.
The plan now goes to public consultation and still needs council approval. The city hopes to have all plans finalized by January 2010, with construction beginning in 2012.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Kate Eggins