Imperfect Ottawa Light Rail Gets Green Light

Imperfect Ottawa Light Rail Gets Green Light

Plus, Baltimore buses get new wrap, and more in our weekly New Starts.

Lincoln Fields Transitway station in Ottawa, Ontario

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Our weekly “New Starts” column of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Ottawa Planning Agency Clears Way for Second Phase of LRT Project
The National Capital Commission, the park and planning agency for the Ottawa-Gatineau region, has given the go-ahead for OC Transpo to proceed with the second phase of the east-west light-rail line that will replace the Ottawa Transitway, Ottawa Metro reports.

The NCC needed to sign off on two line segments, one that passes through parkland west of the city center in Westboro and a north-south spur from Lincoln Fields to Baseline that also passes through NCC land. In order to avoid cutting off access to the Ottawa River waterfront, the line will pass through a tunnel beneath the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway’s eastbound lanes, leaving only a quarter of the 1.2-km (three-quarter-mile) stretch through the park above ground.

Martin Barakengera, NCC senior land use planner, said that an exhaust fan housing at the tunnel’s west end might still prove a problem to neighbors who had previously objected to the structure, but added that its footprint had been reduced by 10 percent and other mitigation features will be added. Locating the fan anywhere else, he said, would add C$14 million ($10.63 million U.S.) to the project’s cost.

NCC Chair Russell Mills said the plan “came out as not a perfect [plan], but a win-win situation for both sides.”

Work on this second phase should begin after the Confederation Line now under construction is completed in 2018.

Work to Begin on First LRT Line in Lund
Lund, an academic and research center of 87,000 at the southern tip of Sweden, will get its first light-rail line, work on which will begin Feb. 15, the International Railway Journal reports.

The 5.5-km (3.4-mile), nine-station line will connect the Lund Central railway station with Science Village and serve employment centers and research institutions in the northeast part of the city.

Groundbreaking for the line will take place in front of the University of Lund Faculty of Engineering building. The line will cost 776 million kronor ($87.8 million U.S.) to build, and an additional 175 million kronor ($19.8 million U.S.) for the purchase of seven low-floor LRVs and 180 million kronor ($20.4 million U.S.) for the line’s storage and maintenance facility.

The line is projected to enter service in 2019, with extensions to Dalby and Staffanstorp proposed for the long term.

That’s a Wrap for Baltimore Buses
The 178 new buses Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave the Maryland Transit Administration $100 million to buy are now getting outfitted in a look that signals a major reorientation of Charm City’s bus system, WJZ reports.

There are two designs, for BaltimoreLink and CityLink, and all 750 in the MTA fleet in Baltimore are getting new wrap (which takes about eight hours per bus) between now and June. As the Baltimore Sun reported last June, a $135 million MTA revamp “known as BaltimoreLink is designed to eliminate inefficiency and long waits in the bus system, and reduce a bottleneck of bus routes converging downtown by shortening and consolidating them into 12 shorter, high-frequency lines known as CityLink.”

“In the past our bus routes were never changed to link in with light rail, MARC and the subway and now they will with BaltimoreLink,” MTA CEO Paul Comfort told the station. “That’s why we’re calling it BaltimoreLink, it’s linking the transit system together.”

New service is set to begin in June.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: transportation spendingtransit agencieslight railbuses

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