City Hall Uses A Watson LRT Deflection

This news release from the City of Ottawa below has a bit of a problem. There’s not a scrap of news in it. That’s usually required equipment for a press release.

So why write it? Because the light-rail project is being killed in the media recently after five years of spotty working, there’s no plan for fixing it. Alstom says the train is fine. It’s everything else that’s wrong. Alstom was the go-to company for fixing this little train that couldn’t. Now it’s taking a powder. Instead, maybe it’s right. Why should it fix other people’s mistakes? That costs money.

That leaves Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, our inept city council and the pummelled taxpayer high and dry. Sutcliffe was banking on Alstom to fix this derailed disaster but now … well … who knows?

This missive below is more a cry for help or a diversion or a deflection from the one of the worst revelations since the Confederation Line showed its first signs it was a lemon in 2019. That is … there’s no repair plan.

With Alstom saying its assemblies are working correctly (and the Transportation Safety Board said they meet industry standards), the focus turns to the basic rail infrastructure. Alstom says the tracks are not made of a hard enough steel. Also Alstom says a number of the track turns are too sharp and are putting too much stress on the wheel-hub assemblies. Fixing the flawed tracks and smoothing the turns would be hideously expensive with land purchases possibly necessary for new tracks and huge changes to the tunnel to accommodate the extended turns.

So Sutcliffe now doesn’t have a viable repair plan after his first two years in office and his main campaign plank in is jeopardy.

And if Alstom is right, then the cost of repairs for this line will be in the stratosphere. Sutcliffe is up to his neck in trouble.


You don’t change the route of the rails in the tunnel without rolling up astronomical costs. And expropriation outside the tunnel to lengthen those curves is long and messy.

There’s no good answer.

So why issue a press release on all those multipurpose paths that the train will create? Because all those people who are fighting climate change with their bikes will be ecstatic, except all those lanes aren’t news. Kitchissippi Councillor Jeffy “Two-Wheels” Leiper will be salivating.

Oh wait a second.

Wasn’t Leiper one of those councillors who voted for the Confederation Line route and its tight turns and tunnel? And what kind of no-versight did he provide? Less than for the little-used Churchill Avenue complete street.

Long-term councillors and staffers have a lot for which to account. God bless their blinkered eyes.

Just in case you missed it, and seeing that no one has mentioned it, council, former mayor Jim Watson and senior long-term staff have done a hideous job with light rail. In 2019 when this repair mess came to the fore, honestly, who could have imagined this would all be so bad? The incompetence has exceeded even Your Agent’s most pessimistic predictions and The Bulldog’s glee club membership expired a couple of decades ago.

Now Sutcliffe has botched the repair. The mind wobbles.

So if you can’t fix the train, and city hall can’t, the MO is to fix the message. Image is everything. If you can convince the public you’re doing a good job, well then you’re doing a good job. Watson lived on this smooth premise his whole career. And it worked. What’s to lose? City hall now looks like the south end of a northbound donkey.

So with Sutcliffe’s office resembling a Watson alumni get-together, why not pull out a deflection in honour of the master?

And that’s what the release below is about. When Ottawans should be reading about an effective plan B, we are instead offered a release on all the good things the come from LRT that aren’t LRT, like bike paths. Maybe that’s all we’ll get from LRT. At $6.4 billion, it appears we over-paid.

A classic Watson-like deflection. We’ll ignore the inept LRT, but, hey, look at all those shiny bike paths. Be still my heart.

But here’s an idea. Unused in many years at city hall. Why not address the problem at hand. That’s what fed-up Ottawans want to hear.

Rather than fixing the issue by pasting it over in Happy Town News press releases, why not fix the problem? Why not have an honest conversation with the public? From all appearances, Ottawa’s intelligent population is much smarter than council and staff. Maybe city hall could learn something. You know, be competent. A pause that refreshes.

Ottawa can handle the truth. The question is … will the city hall types listen? They’ve been wrong  and patronizing so many, many times that it’s hard to imagine they will.

Ken Gray

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

From /  

Expéditeur 

Michael Morgan, Director, Rail Construction Program  Transit Services Department 

Subject / Objet Enhancing Connectivity with the O-Train  Extension Project 

Date: May 30, 2024 

The purpose of this memo is to provide the Mayor and Members of Council with details of how  the O-Train Extension Project is enhancing connectivity throughout the city.  

The O-Train Extension project is adding 44 km of rail and 24 new O-Train stations, bringing 77 per  cent of Ottawa residents within five kilometres of rail. Generally, that is a 10-minute bus ride, a 20- minute bike ride, or a shorter trip if dropped off by car. 

Ensuring that key local pedestrian and cyclist networks are integrated into the extended rail network  is a critical element of the project. Through this project, the City is encouraging active transportation  through the creation of multi-use pathways (MUPs), cycle-tracks, pedestrian bridges and bike  parking. This adds approximately $20 million in infrastructure to the City of Ottawa’s pedestrian and  cyclist network by providing critical connections, as well as fully accessible pathways to new O Train stations. These active mobility enhancements align with the policies of the Official Plan to  provide multi-use pathways in, or adjacent to, rapid-transit corridors, where feasible. 

For the O-Train South Extension (Lines 2 and 4), the project will add new cycling and pedestrian  facilities to the network, including: 

  • A 60-metre pedestrian and cycling bridge across the Rideau River 
  • A raised 80-metre pedestrian and cycling bridge over Hunt Club Road connecting to the  existing north-south MUP system with new cross-rides at Hunt Club Road and Airport  Parkway 
  • An updated 7-kilometre stone dust pathway between South Keys Station and Bowesville  Station including new pedestrian crossings at Lester, Leitrim, and Earl Armstrong A MUP and wildlife grade separated crossing at the intersection of High Road and the railway,  to connect the natural areas that would be otherwise divided by the guideway A new MUP connecting Limebank Station to Earl Armstrong Road 

The O-Train East Extension Project (Line 1) will add new cycling and pedestrian facilities to the  network, including: 

  • A 4-kilometre MUP between Blair Station and Sir George Etienne Cartier Parkway including a  new pedestrian bridge over Green’s Creek. This MUP includes connections into the  community at Blair Place, Trillium Park, Arrowsmith Drive, Pine Gove Bible Church, and East  Acres Road  
  • Improved pedestrian and cyclist connectivity at Jeanne d’Arc Station, including widened  sidewalks, cross-rides and a MUP on the east side of the overpass 
  • New and renewed MUPs around Place d’Orléans Station, including a new 800-metre MUP between Place d’Orléans Park and Ride and Bilberry Drive, the addition of lighting along the  renewed MUP from Champlain Street to Alpine Street, and new MUPs from Champlain Street  to Centrum Boulevard
  • New MUPs and sidewalks around Trim Station, including along the newly realigned Trim  Road and leading to Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard 
  • Trim Station has also been futureproofed for a new pedestrian bridge over the westbound  lanes on Highway 174 

The O-Train West Extension Project (Lines 1 and 3) will add new cycling and pedestrian facilities to  the network, including: 

  • Improved cyclist and pedestrian connectivity along Scott Street from Churchill Ave to Caroline  Avenue 
  • A renewed MUP with lighting from Churchill Avenue to Kichi Zìbì Station A renewed pedestrian bridge from Roosevelt Avenue to Workman Avenue Two new pedestrian underpasses under the Kichi Zìbì Mìkan; one connecting north of  Churchill Avenue and one adjacent to Cleary Avenue 
  • Two new signalized pedestrian crossings of the Kichi Zìbì Mìkan; one near Westboro Beach  and one at the Rochester Field 
  • Enhanced active mobility features through the Byron-Richmond Corridor, from Cleary Avenue  to Edgeworth Avenue including: 

o Integration of soft and hardscaping through the corridor for community use o New cycle tracks and sidewalks along Richmond Road  

  • New MUPs leading to Lincoln Fields Station and through Connaught Park Renewal of the Woodroffe High School pedestrian and cycling bridge  
  • New and renewed MUPs between the Highway 417 and Woodroffe Avenue, via Iris and  Algonquin Stations 
  • Renewed MUPs and enhanced landscaping through the Pinecrest Stormwater Pond area A new pedestrian and cycling overpass across Highway 417 – connecting residents from  Baxter Road to the new Queensview Station  
  • A new MUP connection from Severn Avenue to Queensview Drive, connecting residents to  Queensview Station 
  • A new pedestrian connection from Richmond Road to Bayshore Station 

With Ottawa’s population continuing to grow, the O-Train extension project will help ensure the  nation’s capital continues to be one of the best places to live, work and play. 

For more information and maps of the connectivity enhancements, please visit the connectivity  enhancement study.  

Original signed by, 

Michael Morgan 

cc: Senior Leadership Team 

Transit Services Departmental Leadership Team  

Director, Public Information and Media Relations 

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5 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    Did the “press release” come with air sickness bags? otherwise known as BARF bags?

  2. Ron Benn says:

    The proximity of these new(ish) pathways to the LRT is actually quite strategic. Riders will have a safer route to walk after leaving a train that is stranded between stations.

  3. David says:

    Well I know exactly how this whole situation needs to be addressed. I know, to the same degree that the city does not know. But I must confess, as a municipal consultant (retired), I’d want a $250K advance cheque and a jug of Advil just to get me into the game. I’d have to be romanced.

  4. Ken Gray says:

    David:

    Can it be fixed?

    cheers

    kgray

  5. David says:

    Well that’s the key question isn’t it. If I, you, the public and perhaps even the city knew the nature and extent of the problem a determination could be made. But I assume none of us do. So as a consultant my first task would be to identify the problem(s). This would not be an exercise in fault finding – which would not be (at this stage) a good use of time and money. So, having determined exactly what the nature of the issues are, one needs to identify what the solution options might be. In that exercise, the consultant needs to be guided by what is in the realm of the possible, and realistic – not by what has gone before – and not by what amateurs believe in their hearts can or must be done. From this comes a suite of opportunities – a suite that elected officials and the taxpaying public must be briefed on – and must decide upon. Transparency clearly is essential to such an exercise. As conditions, options and opportunities become clarified, it’s quite reasonable to expect that we will see resignations, dismissals and sanctions imposed on individuals and pubic / private entities. New blood at all levels will be needed for action and achievement. This all adds up to a way cleared in order to ensure sensible planning and delivery. This will not be a task for pussy foots.

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