City committee approves $2.1B transit plan
A city committee has approved a $2.1-billion plan to build a downtown tunnel and extend light rail from east to west.
The city's transit committee approved the plan on Wednesday. It includes 12.5 kilometres of light rail extending from Blair Road to Tunney's Pasture, as well as building a downtown tunnel 10 storeys underground. The plan will go before council for final approval on Jan. 13.
"I think it's long overdue. It should have been done a long time ago and I hope nothing happens to derail it," said one Ottawa resident.
However, opponents of the plan have just that in mind. Former Ottawa-Carleton regional chair Andy Haydon is working to kill the plan.
He says bus rapid transit (BRT) is a cheaper and more efficient option. BRT would cost the city $3.5 million per kilometre, while the LRT would cost $16.5 million per kilometre.
"Nobody's thinking about the money. Does anybody care?" Haydon told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday.
But Coun. Bob Monette says that's not true.
"I have a huge concern about the money," he said.
However, he added the survival of the plan relies on financial help from the provincial and federal governments.
"If they're not at the table with a strong commitment then we have to re-look at the whole plan and maybe look at something like the BRT that Andy Haydon is proposing," said Monette.
Others say a final decision needs to be made: "We can't keep stepping back and taking another look, another look, when it's very clear where we need to go and I think it's time to make decisions and it's time to get the job done," said Coun. Rainer Bloess, who also sits on the city's transit committee.
So far, the city has secured $400 million in funding for the plan from the provincial and federal governments. A formal funding request is yet to be made.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman