Will Gates Solve Old Rail Bridge Woes? Reader


prince of wales bridge

Just how many people use this bridge as a pedestrian walkway?

Frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn takes a rational look at the questions surrounding the Prince Of Wales bridge.

There are two issues at hand: how big is the problem; and will the proposed solution actually solve the problem?

Given the track record this city in applying solutions to problems that are either minor in nature (how many people actually use that over-budget disaster of a pedestrian/bike bridge that crosses the Airport Parkway between South Keys and the Hunt Club neighbourhood to the west?), or do not actually solve the problem (a short-line LRT that forces commuters from distant suburbs to make multiple transfers on their way to/from downtown).

I recommend that prudent councillors ask staff:

  • how big is the problem (how many people access the bridge, how many injuries have been reported, how many lawsuits have been filed as a result);
  • how the proposed $250K solution will prevent, as contrasted with merely slow down, trespassers from accessing the bridge.

If staff cannot give adequate answers (hint: the answer to the first set of questions is numeric), then defer the vote until staff can provide those answers. The answers to these questions should be made public, because it isn’t just Chief Charles Bordeleau who is suffering from a lack of confidence in his leadership.


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9 thoughts on “Will Gates Solve Old Rail Bridge Woes? Reader

  1. I am uncertain as to whom the bridge actually belongs and thus whose responsibility it is to secure the “private” property. Can you answer this?


    1. Bruce:

      If my memory serves me correctly, it belongs to the city and was purchased for the scrap-metal value of the bridge. It was purchased with the idea of extending the O-Train across the river.

      That was met with opposition from Gatineau politicians.




      1. Not only is Gatineau ‘opposed’ to the extension of the O-train across the river, they have put their resources into a bus-only Rapibus system that starts in Aylmer and is being built through to the east. It, along with regular routes, connects to downtown Ottawa via routes that cross the MacDonald-Cartier and Portage Bridges. They also have a few rush-hour routes that connect Aylmer to Tunney’s Pasture via the Champlain Bridge as well as regular routes that cross the Alexandra Bridge from Hull.
        It would have been logical, given the number of people that cross the Ottawa River in both directions every day, to work together and plan an efficient transit system that seamlessly interconnects the two cities. It would have required a thing called ‘cooperation’ though. There was a role here for the NCC as well as both provinces to make that happen. Because both transit systems operate across provincial borders, they also fall under some limited federal government jurisdiction.


  2. I look at an old bridge, like the one pictured, and I see history, a beautiful piece of engineering and an opportunity to turn it into something useful.


    1. Merrill, one person’s problem is another person’s minor annoyance is another person’s crisis. It is all in their perspective.

      On a related note, I think it might be fun to hear from the Bulldog’s readers on innovative solutions to the undefined size and shape of a problem at hand. The winner will receive, at my cost, a one week subscription to the Bulldog.

      Here is my thought. I recommend that the city consider:
      – a 10 metre wide strip of Wild Parsnip along the outside edge of the rebuilt (existing) fence;
      – a further 10 metre wide strip of Wild Parsnip along the inside of the fence; and
      – since it is possible to sod a bridge, a 10 metre long, edge to edge, strip of Wild Parsnip down the bridge.

      If the social misfits are willing to brave the painful rash that develops, then have at it boys and girls.


  3. Transport Canada contacted the city months ago saying they weren’t satisfied with the safety of the bridge as is. That prompted staff to investigate some alternatives, including the gates.

    I would compare this with another Transport Canada issue, namely the three Via Rail crossings in Barrhaven. The Bulldog initially reported on Mayor Jim Watson saying that stop signs were adequate; but after the TSB report, the city (partnering with Via Rail) commissioned a study to investigate this subject. Watson has stated that the city alone cannot fund the grade separation of all these crossings. (n.b. The Greenbank Road underpass — a project that was in the works before the fatal 2013 crash that killed six people — was recently completed at a cost of $58 million.)

    Do we really need to study these Barrhaven rail crossings? Or do we need to start construction on grade separation immediately? Likewise, do we need to gate up the POW bridge? Or do we need to drive ahead with fixing up this bridge for public transit (LRT) service?

    The answers are obvious, however, Mayor Jim Watson does not want to spend any political capital to make these things happen. Rather, he has invested everything on his $3-billion plan for Stage 2 of LRT expansion (i.e. his platform for re-election.)

    The only problem is Watson. His lack of flexibility and poor management skills have resulted in a tunnel vision. Priority of projects in this city is out of balance. In short, our mayor cares more about “Watson 2018,” than he does about “Ottawa 2016.”


    1. Sheridan:

      Thank you for this.

      I was wondering how long it would take for the overpasses to Barrhaven to be mentioned.

      And now they have. Good.




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