Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Queensway ramp closure

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I'd like to pass along my thanks to the residents, multiple City staff, Ministry of Transportation (MTO) staff and consultants and media who made last night's public information session about the potential to close one on-ramp to the Queensway such a well-attended event. Councillor Brockington and our MPP Yasir Naqvi also spent considerable time at the session. The message was clearly heard by everyone that the community is adamantly opposed to the proposed closure.

The session was very helpful in helping me understand the safety argument underpinning the proposal to close the ramp, which takes westbound Carling traffic onto the eastbound Queensway behind the Westgate mall. To be clear, this is not a current-state issue, but a forward-looking one. Briefly, and has been widely reported, the Province will be modifying the Queensway through the Maitland-Island Park Drive corridor by adding a new travel lane in each direction. Thus, the long merge lane for the existing ramp that takes eastbound Carling traffic to the eastbound Queensway will become a travel lane. In order to accomplish a safe merger with the addition of this lane, MTO considers that it needs to close the second ramp to provide an adequate and safe merging lane. I think this is sound reasoning, and MTO has proposed an obvious solution to what would otherwise be an unsafe situation.

However, what still needs to be taken into account are the neighbourhood traffic impacts of that solution, including a forward-looking view that takes into account what will likely be a large-scale redevelopment of the Westgate Mall. The community clearly articulated its concern - with which I am in wholehearted agreement - that diverting thousands of cars a day to other ramps will exacerbate an already challenging traffic situation in our and River wards.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to voice these concerns at exactly the right time in the process. I am confident that this is absolutely not a done deal: it is an engineering solution to an engineering problem, and there is lots of discussion still to be had.

We have already had one meeting with Minister Naqvi and he is advocating strongly on the community's behalf. It's important that residents continue to provide written comment to MTO to put their concerns on the record. The next steps will likely be to continue the discussion between Minister Naqvi, Councillor Brockington, the MTO, City and I, working with the affected community associations, to explore alternatives and address resident's concerns.

I should say that I've had several occasions to deal with MTO on Queensway-related issues that were initially of concern that became win-wins for all the stakeholders. Several years ago, thanks to Minister Naqvi's strong leadership and the Hintonburg Community Association's advocacy, a potentially dangerous configuration of the Parkdale WB off-ramp was re-designed to create a cul-de-sac for Westmount residents. And, since taking office, I've seen the MTO, City and Minister Naqvi respond to our concern about maintaining the space under the Queensway/O-Train for a west-side multi-use path with a re-design there, as well (at less cost, too boot!).

To be clear, I consider that the addition of that travel lane is unlikely to help west end commuters into the core any more quickly. If its addition creates an unsafe condition that needs to be solved with this closure, my preference would be not to put the new travel lane in at all. However, I am also confident that if it proceeds, a more elegant solution to the safety issue can certainly be found.

Last night, I heard multiple creative solutions to the safety issue offered that I am confident MTO will explore. I know that Yasir will continue to be a very strong advocate on our behalf, and I look forward to a busy summer of discussions re-visiting this proposed closure.


Posted June 17, 2016