Ottawa Construction News Staff writer
The City of Ottawa has started a public engagement process to complete the design to widen the Airport Parkway from two lanes to four between Brookfield Avenue and Hunt Club Road, at an anticipated $35 to $40 million construction cost.
The road, which ultimately connects the Ottawa International Airport with the city’s core, is congested at peak times. especially after access ramps were constructed several years ago connecting the parkway to Hunt Club Road.
However, despite a $7.4 million design budget, it is uncertain whether the overall project will be completed a couple of years after construction starts at the scheduled time in 2027.
Municipal officials and contracted designers held a virtual pubic meeting to discuss the project and invite community input last Wednesday (Nov. 23).
Riley Brockington, city councillor for Ward 16 River, said at the meeting’s conclusion that the construction costs will be funded through development fees. He estimated the construction work will cost between $35 and $40 million once tenders are issued, based on current costs. However, “a key decision will come before city council whether we allocate construction dollars to proceed with this project.”
The work includes road widening, bridge and underpass rehabilitation, and new multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists on the west side of the Parkway. (There is an existing multi-use pathway on the road’s eastern side and cyclists are currently permitted to ride on the roadway’s shoulders.)
Special additional work will be completed on the main intersection with the Parkway at Walkey road, where a roundabout will be constructed and new exit ramps constructed. The Walkey road changes will include reducing the roadway to two lanes at the overpass and building new cycling lanes on each side of the road.
Some residents at the 90 minute online session expressed support for the new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, but wondered why the road needs to be widened, especially considering the anticipated imminent completion of the city’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) from South Keys to the airport. That project is expected to be completed next year.
Planners and consultants involved in the project says traffic and environmental assessment studies indicate there won’t be a significant increase in “induced” traffic to the city centre once the road is widened but, even with a significant volume of traffic replaced by the LRT, there still will be significant congestion problems by the 2030s if the road isn’t expanded.
However, while the detailed design completion is scheduled for completion by November, 2023, since construction isn’t expected to begin until 2027, Brockington indicated that the city will have time to see how the LRT completion impacts the need for the roadway expansion before it puts the work out for tender.