Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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SJAM/Byron LRT Working Group Meeting Dec 16/19 - a recap

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With Stage 2 LRT construction now in its early days, we have reassembled two working groups to address resident’s issues. Our office has also committed to publishing summaries of each meeting so the wider community is up to speed on the project as it continues.

Throughout the Stage 2 planning period the Cleary Working Group was very active and had a constructive role to play in the design and location of the LRT station. Through the construction period, this group has been rebranded as the SJAM/Byron Working Group, covering the area from just west of Dominion Station through to Cleary Station.

This group met last on June 11 at the very beginning of the construction period. The following are the minutes from the most recent meeting, held December 16 in the meeting room of The Continental, at 75 Cleary Avenue:

Attendance – Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, Kitchissippi Councillor Assistant Tom Pechloff, Bay Ward Councillor Assistant Ayah Stretch, Dorothy Tweedie from 900 Byron, Anne Bennett from 655 Richmond, Carol Kardish and Chuck Davies from 75 Cleary, Carmen Baggely from 727 Richmond, McKellar Park Community Association president Sybil Powell, Rob McCrae from Bike Ottawa, George Thomas from 485 Richmond Road, Carlingwood Community Association president Tricia Ross, Damon Berlin from LRT Stage 2 Stakeholder Relations.

Jeff Leiper opened the meeting with a welcome to some new members and a brief history of the working groups to date. He said construction is coming and will bring disruption with it so this group can be a good sounding board throughout the process. He said the meetings will likely be more frequent leading up to construction as people will have questions about what to expect. Once construction starts and people know what’s going on, the meetings will likely be less frequent. He urged everyone in attendance, who all represented buildings, tenants’ associations or community associations, to share information from these meetings with their residents. He said the lines of communication were good during Stage 1 and all signs indicate they will be even better. With that he introduced the Damon Berlin from the Stakeholder Relations team.

Berlin began his presentation by saying a function of the design-build process is that at this point, there is still very little information available. The City is still in the process of reviewing designs. Berlin reviewed some of the recent activity like the realignment of the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway (SJAM), noting the full switch to the new westbound lanes is now complete. Construction on the new eastbound lanes will begin in the spring. Berlin showed the pedestrian crossing just behind where the strip mall at 747 Richmond was, which connects to the multi-use path (MUP) to Cleary Station. Since it is a design-build, Berlin repeated that details are not available yet, but there will be a pedestrian underpass at the SJAM somewhere in this area. Berlin acknowledged concerns about the SJAM’s final alignment as some curves creating pinch points to the each and to some resident’s property. He said the design is to  help mitigate speeding.

Sybil Powell asked how close the curves will come to homes on Skead and Westminster and Anne Bennett asked how to contact the NCC.

Leiper says to contact them directly through their information line or email, but said the NCC will not be open to changing the alignment as they like their design. He said they came up with the design without consultation and that he has told the NCC he is not happy about that.

Theresa Kavanagh was wondering about the jersey barriers on the SJAM. She’s concerned about their presence because drivers can lose control more often on the SJAM because of the wind and then crash into these barriers.

Berlin said they are only there for construction, to prevent drivers from running into anything else.

Bennett asked whether the path on the southside will remain open. Berlin said it will be closed for construction but will reopen after. It’s too close to the construction zone to stay open.

Leiper invites attendees to write to him and he can send them the NCC’s plan for the river’s linear park. (Available here)

McCrae asked if preserving MUP connectivity wasn’t part of the contract. Berlin said it was, but only on the north side. McCrae said that creates a break in connectivity. Berlin said he can take that back and get more answers about connectivity post-construction. But during construction, he recommended pedestrians take Richmond and respect the signage. Construction will be done in stages and it is important to take the safe route. Crossing construction areas is not a good idea and these areas will be fenced off and locked anyway. He said he is still saying this though, since many locks were broken during Stage 1.

Leiper said an understanding of where the bike detours will be is a good idea. Dog walkers too, said Bennett.

McCrae said the new alignment means there will be times when headlights shine directly into homes. Leiper said he could raise that with the NCC. Bennett suggests some permanent fencing.

Berlin said the train is being buried specifically to prevent any obstructions to the river. Consequently, fencing will likely not be an option.

Berlin said as of the meeting, the NCC had put a hold on tree removal, but 2/3 of the crabapple orchard by Lincoln Fields will be removed. He said by moving the entrance to the Rochester Field staging area, the contractor will only have to remove one tree there. Berlin said there would be no activity in Rochester Field this winter but activity will increase in the new year. There will be a fence on the south side of the oak trees over the winter.

George Thomas asked if/when the diagonal MUP will be out of commission. Berlin said he had no precise schedule but would guesstimate at some point in the summer of 2020.

Bennett asked if there is anything mandatory about fence placement. Berlin said no. Leiper asked whether there could be a MUP outside the fencing. Berlin said you would have to cut down trees to do it and this is all inside the construction zone anyway.

Berlin said there will be a one-metre buffer outside the work zone to help preserve the health of remaining trees.

Dorothy Tweedie asked about tree reinstatement post-construction. Berlin said there is a policy baked into the contract that every tree removed with a diameter greater than 10cm gets replaced with two trees with a diameter greater than 7cm.

Thomas said the early construction activity is creating noise problems for residents of his building. Leiper said he granted a noise bylaw exemption but has asked that the normal backup beepers be replaced with the whoosh sounding beepers. Thomas said the beepers have not been replaced. Berlin said all of the contractors trucks and their subcontractors trucks have the white noise beepers. But their subs’ subcontractors, handling cartage responsibilities for instance, do not. Berlin said there is no real way to get them to change. Thomas said all it takes is one truck to cause disruptions. Leiper said he needs details so he knows when to oppose further noise exemption requests. Thomas said he got a complaint from the 21st floor. Leiper said if the complaints become regular, the exemption will have to be revisited.

Berlin said the preference is always to work during the day as it is less expensive, but there are some penalties written into the contract if traffic is affected which makes some night time work necessary.

Lieper said he gets these exemption requests every few weeks. Even if he said no, they could go to council to get the exemption, but generally, they will try to avoid that process by making me and making us happy.

McCrae asked whether the exemptions can be shared. Leiper said sometimes they just need to get done. Bennett asked whether they could learn if he ever declines one. Leiper said he will grant them if they are reasonable. He says he doesn’t approve hoe-ramming or hydrovacing but paving or moving earth is not as disruptive so they will get permission to do that. If anything changes, Leiper said he would let the community know as he did during Stage 1.

Powell asked about the probability of weekend night work over the summer. Berlin said the contractor will likely really want to avoid this as it is very expensive. The schedule is not in danger right now so there is no real reason to do it. Leiper said there should be no reason to need exemptions during cut-and-cover construction unless they fall behind schedule.

Tweedie asked what noise will be like at the Cleary Station, which will be an open-air station. Berlin said he expected noise questions are prompted by some of the Stage 1 noise complaints around Parkdale. Unlike that situation, trains are coming to a stop or just starting at Cleary so speeds will be low. They will also be undercover everywhere except for where they are actually stopped, so the circumstances here are much different. Also, lessons learned about noise mitigation will be applied in advance during the Stage 2 construction.

Bennett asked whether the noise at Parkdale exceeds the limits of the contract. Berlin said it doesn’t, but the city has acknowledged it is too loud, which is why mitigation efforts are taking place. Bennett asked what this contract says about noise. Leiper said he thinks the language is similar but he thinks the rail damping at Parkdale will work and the same application can happen here. Leiper asked whether the train will squeal around the corner approaching Cleary Station. Berlin said yes but wondered whether anyone will hear it since the train will be 9m underground at that point. He thought that would be highly unlikely but conceded he is not a sound engineer. Thomas said we won’t know until it’s built. If there’s a direct path out, it will be audible, but if it has to bounce around first, it won’t be. Chuck Davies said there are acoustic materials that could be used to line the tunnel.

As for accessibility, Berlin said the contract calls for accessible access to all levels of the station. There will likely be redundant elevators but no room for escalators, which is ok since this is expected to be a low-volume station.

Berlin said the re-instated Byron Linear Park will be beautiful. The trees planted here will have a greater chance of long-term survival than the trees that have already been removed for the construction as the original trees were on an old railway line. Davies agrees there were a lot of unhealthy trees in the park. Tricia Ross asks if there will be public input on what kind of trees are planted. Berlin said that was doubtful, but encouraged suggestions anyway as the contract was not prescriptive. Bennett asked when the trees would be replanted and Berlin said it would be the last thing done. Davies asked whether there was an expectation that native trees would be planted here. Berlin said yes, generally, and that he would check the contract language about tree replacement.

Bennett asked if re-doing Richmond Road was part of the LRT project. Berlin said yes. Davies asked if the complete street treatment is still to be expected. Berlin said yes, west of Cleary. Leiper said we still don’t know when it will get the same treatment from Cleary Ave, east into Westboro Village. Berlin said we can rediscover this at our next meeting should we desire, but yes, a protected intersection is still in the plans for Woodroffe at Richmond and the plan is still to close Byron at Woodroffe.

Davies asked whether Redwood will still be closed at Richmond. Berlin said yes, as that will create a plaza with programmable space.

Carol Kardish asked how many crosswalks from north side on Richmond to station? Berlin said he can find out how many Richmond Road crosswalks are expected between Rochester Fields and Lincoln Fields.

Berlin then provided a rough timeline for the project with the cut and cover happening in 2020, new stations being constructed in 2021/22, west guideway installation in 2021 and a tentative August 2022 timeframe for excavation at Cleary Station. Berlin said these are all theoretical times right now as the consortium will have a better understanding of their work plan later this spring.

Bennett said she hoped workers wouldn’t put up fencing until absolutely necessary.

For the cut and cover, Davies wondered whether the piles would be drilled or driven. Berlin said he will find out. He said crews will excavate from grade, construct the concrete structure of the tunnel, regrade top, and then everything back reinstated with two trees coming back for every one removed.

McCrae asked about cartage traffic. Berlin said it would happen on approved routes, with Churchill being one of them.

Powell asked how deep the tunnel would be. Berlin said 7 to 9m.

Leiper asked whether any bedrock would have to be blasted. Berlin said the consortium says no but that they can propose a change in methodology if it is determined to be more efficient/quicker. Over one thousand boreholes indicate lots of boulders instead of bedrock. Davies said it was probably too close to the West Nepean Collector (sewer) to blast.

McCrae said the cycling access in lieu of the south side MUP is not good. Leiper agreed, saying this was a conversation that needs to be continued. Berlin said he would bring Campbell Inwood into this conversation, as he is managing the traffic implications. McCrae said he would like something more permanent from the end of the path into Westboro Village.

Davies said he would like to set up discussions with the contractor and the engineering advisors for 75 Cleary to discuss the upcoming construction at the corner of their building. He would like a level of confidence in the stability of the building, preferably before construction starts.

Carmen Baggely expressed noise concerns alluding to a noise/vibration study, and wondered whether there is information available about how much noise is being experienced downtown. Berlin said the scenarios are not the same so any noise measurements may not matter. Baggely asked whether it was reasonable to ask the city to help he and the residents of his building to understand the study. Berlin asked him to email the study to him.




Posted January 17, 2020