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Ottawa City Council approves new pedestrian-friendly Bank Street bridge redesign

Construction is expected to start early next year and be done by the end of 2021.
USED 2019-06-27 Bank Street bridge over Rideau Canal MV1
Bank Street bridge over Rideau Canal. Mike Vlasveld/

The Bank Street Canal Bridge is set to become permanently more pedestrian-friendly.

Ottawa City Council voted in favour of a redesign, Wednesday, September 9, that will see the bridge across the Rideau Canal go from four traffic lanes to three -- two northbound and one southbound. 

A memo from Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard explains that the extra space is expected to be used to install wide multi-use paths on each side of the road. The paths will be 50 per cent wider than the sidewalks they replace. 

"The [current] sidewalk is very uncomfortable for pedestrians. It has a high curb and it’s not very wide," says the councillor. "With speeding traffic on one side and a railing on the other, it can be very difficult for pedestrians to pass each other, especially in winter. There are also no bicycling facilities on the bridge, and bicyclists are forced to share the road with buses and heavy trucks. Many choose to ride on the sidewalk because the roadway is so unsafe."

Menard adds, the design will still facilitate buses queuing on the bridge for large events at Lansdowne Park.

Six different designs were developed and considered by City of Ottawa staff before identifying one that could meet the needs of all users and adhere to city guidelines. 

Consultations for the bridge redesign were conducted over the summer, and Menard says 86 per cent of respondents identified street safety as a priority, while 87 per cent preferred the new design over the existing one.

Now that the design is approved, the project will enter the detailed design phase. 

City staff and Menard’s office will be working with the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the Glebe BIA, and the local community to finalize the detailed design.

The city expects construction to begin next year and be completed by the end of 2021.

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