Fix the traffic crisis in our city — now
Stop development until solutions are found, Carol Anne Meehan says.
Our roads are at capacity. We can’t put another vehicle on north-south routes that have not been upgraded or widened in decades. The rush hour in Ottawa is at a crisis point, and must be addressed now, not in 2032. We can’t get up any earlier in the day to beat the traffic.
Despite the agonizing congestion, it’s still faster for many to hop in their car. We have bike routes, but not enough, and biking is not a solution for everyone, especially in our long, cold winters.
Here are the sad facts: The southern LRT won’t be ready for years. We are not tackling our busing deficit. We have hit a wall. I am recommending that we pump the brakes on development until we put in place solutions. The City of Ottawa should not approve one more dwelling or residence in the south end of Ottawa until such time as the traffic problem is solved. Full stop.
So, what can be done? Widen the roads. There are a number of north-south routes that could accommodate additional lanes, so let’s add them.
A rapid bus system. We can add a regular north-south bus system during rush hours that will not only address the current lack of capacity but reduce the number of transfers necessary for rush-hour riders. And yes, if they need a lane, then let’s find them a lane.
Enhanced park-and-ride. Currently, if you don’t arrive at the park-and-ride well before 8 a.m., then forget about finding a parking spot. We need to build parking structures that will not only handle all the existing traffic, but future capacity as well.
Implement priority traffic (i.e., change traffic direction during rush hour). We have had great success diverting lanes on the Champlain Bridge to Aylmer so there are more lanes flowing with the direction of traffic during rush hour. Ottawa could change some of the southbound lanes during the morning commute to northbound lanes, and vice versa, to take advantage of underused lanes at the right times of day.
Community Work Hubs. Not everyone can work from home, but the city should partner with the federal government to test the concept of local Community Work Hubs in the south end of the city. Secure federal government office space in the south end of the city.
If you want more homes in the south end of Ottawa, there will have to be solutions to our traffic problems.