Here's the best news, in my opinion. The first project to be complete under Phase II will be the southern extension of the Ellwood Sub (known publicly as the Trillium Line) to Bowesville Road in the city's south end. This means the communities of Riverside South, Findlay Creek and Leitrim will have a much faster route to downtown Ottawa when this phase is done in 2021. Remember that there is an existing right-of-way (the old CP Prescott Sub) in place. Included in this project will be a spur line to the Ottawa International Airport and a 3,500 spot park and ride at Bowesville where people can park and hop on the train. All in all, this is good news for the growing south end and great news for those frustrated with the congested Airport Parkway. This should have been a priority long ago, but better late than never.
So, the bad news? The Trillium Line will be shut down for a year and a half as the extension of this line is underway. Considering the city didn't seem at all interested in this common sense project until recently, I would gladly sacrifice this line for a year if it meant that it was extended to where it should be by 2021.
O-Train heads south near Young Street on Feb. 20
The next part of the second phase to be completed will be an extension of the eastern half of the Confederation Line from Blair Station to Trim Road, instead of Place d'Orleans. I'm glad that the city is moving quickly to further extend the train to Trim, since this is where it needs to be in the east end, and as soon as possible. This project will be finished in 2022 and will include a widening of the city's Highway 174 to accommodate light rail through the centre median. This will be a painful process for east end commuters, but having railways running in the centre median is smart and saves money, as there will be no costly land expropriations, neighbourhood fights and other hassles that go along with building rail lines through urban communities.
Two O-Trains meet near Somerset Street on Feb. 20
The good news for the western Confederation Line extension is that the western leg of the line will be extended from Tunney's Pasture to Moodie Drive by 2023, which will bring the train closer to Kanata much earlier than previously planned. The original plan was to have trains in Kanata by 2031. The extension to Moodie Drive is good news for Bells Corners and to Department of National Defence workers, who are in the process of moving into the old Nortel Networks Campus on Moodie. The original second phase plans called for the end of the line to be at the Bayshore Shopping Centre.
Still, I'm sure a few west end residents are wondering why they are the last ones to get light rail extended to their neighbourhoods as part of this plan.
I'm also still curious, given the city's change of heart on the southern extension and its plans to extend light rail over the Prince of Wales Bridge eventually, why nothing has been done to investigate light rail over the existing Beachburg Sub/Renfrew Spur in the west end. These lines are lightly used, to say the very least, and seem to be ripe for further use. And they just happen to cut through Kanata, which desperately needs better transit options.
In total, 36 kilometres and 22 stations will be added, including the recently announced Moodie station.
In a related commuter transit vein, the city is now putting its old Bombardier Talent trainsets up for sale. At one point, the city was considering using them in some fashion, but those plans were never seriously considered. The Talent trainsets were the original train consists used for light rail in Ottawa until they were replaced by Alstom Coradia LINT units. I'll miss the old O-Trains. Happy Trails!
I won't get into the details of why the expanded service on the Trillium Line has not reached the frequency of a train every eight minutes at every station, as was promised. Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson did mention this week that he was disappointed that the newly expanded service as not delivered as promised.