Today, I was very pleased to join Mayor Jim Watson in announcing the City of Ottawa’s plans to move forward with Stage 2 of our Light Rail Transit project, which will connect Ottawa; East, West and South together.
In 2010, there was a better chance of landing an astronaut on Mars than bringing LRT to Orléans. As you know, this belief matched the lack of investments in our community, which is why I ran for City Council that year. I, like many of you, was frustrated that Orléans and Cumberland seemed to be left out of the amalgamated Ottawa experiment.
I was proud to lead the fight to ensure LRT came to Orléans as soon as possible, not decades into the future. Some residents and members of the media even asked me if this was pipe dream, a lost cause. Throughout this process, I’ve learned that lost causes are the ones worth fighting for.
Today, we’ve taken the next big step to bringing this vision to fruition.
Over the next few years, we will see this vision of an affordable city-wide transit system become a reality. As service improves and extends into the heart of Orléans, more and more people will opt to make public transit their first transportation choice, and not just for their daily commute.
LRT will connect Orléans directly to Ottawa’s entertainment districts; to the world-class restaurants and bars in the Byward Market. To the amazing displays and performances at Arts Court and the National Arts Centre. To our Ottawa Champions baseball team and we all hope to our beloved Ottawa Senators at Lebreton Flats.
In addition to announcing the beginning of our procurement process for Stage 2, we also announced some important additions to the project.
For Orléans and Cumberland residents, perhaps the most important facet is the proposed bundling of the ultimate HWY 174 configuration between Montreal Road and Jeanne d’Arc.While we still need to secure funding, we hope to include the conversion of the current bus lanes into HOV lanes as part of the LRT extension to Orléans.
Further, in addition to extending LRT all the way to Trim Road, we will extend rail slightly beyond Bayshore to Moodie Drive. This will provide a rail connection to the relocated National Defence Headquarters and will make commuting from CFB Orléans to NDHQ that much easier for the women and men who work to keep our nation secure.
Our plan is to have the Orléans extension to Trim Road open in 2022 and the western extension to Moodie Drive open in 2023.
The investment in Stage 2 of LRT will create a total 21,000 person-years of employment, leading to 850 full-time jobs and will total 38 kilometres of new rail laid, and 23 new stations built.
When Stage 1 of the O-Train Confederation Line opens in 2018 it will be the busiest LRT in all of North America. After the construction of Stage 2 we’ll add 10 million new passenger trips by 2031.
That’s a ridership equivalent of removing 14,000 cars off the road and eliminating 110,000 tonnes of Green House Gas emissions.
When all of the elements of Stage 2 of LRT are open in 2023, 70% of Ottawa residents will be within 5 kilometres of a reliable, clean, quiet, comfortable and convenient light rail transit system.
Throughout this work, we’ve kept a keen eye on the finances. Our innovative procurement strategy will also allow us to purchase 38 new train vehicles below the price we paid in 2012 for Stage 1 and it will reduce the per kilometre maintenance cost for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 by about 30%.
For Ottawa, like any large city, long-term economic and environmental well-being will depend to a large degree on our transportation system. To be competitive economically and to reduce harmful pollution, cities must ensure that people, goods and services can move freely and efficiently… and that cleaner transportation options are both available and attractive to users.
With the extension of LRT to Orléans I see myriad economic development opportunities along the 174 corridor. The City will be working with interested landowners and entrepreneurs on how those opportunities can be converted into realities. Moreover, clean, fast and reliable LRT service will improve the experience for Orléans & Cumberland transit users and ensure a higher quality of life for our families.
We have big dreams and lofty goals for our City.
We do the best we can – and for me that comes down to some simple things: Do what’s decent, work harder then everyone else, think long term.
With that approach we are making tremendous progress and it’s an exciting time to live and work in Ottawa.
We are blessed to live in the best city in the most prosperous country in the world.
My friends, with your help, we will continue to work hard to build the modern nations Capital we all deserve.