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Late for work? You’re not alone. Canada 150 and Confederation Line construction projects have led to lane closures, long delays and frustration for commuters going through the downtown area.

Some of the most heavily travelled Centretown roads are under construction, or slated to be soon. Lyon Street, McLeod Street, Queen Street, Rideau Street, and Kent Street are just some of the main thoroughfares affected by the upheaval, clogging city streets during rush hour.

“Since I’m on the 95, I’m passing right through the #OnTrack2018 mess,” said Evan Przesiecki, an Ottawa resident and Carleton journalism student.

The intersection at Kent and Albert streets has been a bit busier lately, thanks to blocked streets and detours. [Photo © Sabrina Nemis]

Construction workers are finishing roadwork in the downtown area in advance of next year’s Canada 150th birthday celebrations. They’re also continuing work on the O-Train Confederation Line project, which is scheduled to open in 2018.

No end in sight for construction

Claude Smith, an OC Transpo bus driver, said construction is affecting 95 per cent of bus routes. He drives many different routes, including routes 95, 40 and 87, and said he deals with many passenger complaints.

He also said it will only get worse as temperatures drop.

Queen Street in downtown Ottawa has reduced lanes for drivers and blocked sidewalks from pedestrians. [Photo © Sabrina Nemis]

Queen Street in downtown Ottawa has reduced lanes for drivers and blocked sidewalks for pedestrians. [Photo © Sabrina Nemis]

“The construction has definitely slowed down traffic, quite a bit actually,” said Smith. “The worst thing is with the snow coming up, we predict it will be a nightmare. And they’ll be starting phase two of the light rail project, so that’s just going to add on. But it’s good at least that they’re putting money back on the streets.”

The Confederation Line is Ottawa’s largest transportation infrastructure project since the building of the Rideau Canal.

“Kids coming into university in the next few years will never know how good they have it. It’s about time Ottawa made one, but I don’t think I’ll even be living here by the time it’s up and running,” said Przesiecki. “So I guess it’s good in the end, but you can’t neglect that we suffered along the way.”

West end woes

The Transitway between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair stations is fully closed until the opening of the Confederation Line. Buses are running on regular roads alongside general traffic.


Click to view the interactive map and to see how many construction projects will affect your neighbourhood until the end of 2016. Data source: City of Ottawa [Graphic by Patrick Butler and Alexandra Mazur]

Kyra Kindermann buses from Nepean to Rideau Centre daily to get to work and school. She said construction work makes her commute unpredictable, especially with the closure of the Transitway.

“My commute almost doubles in length at times. I usually take the 96 or the 67 to get downtown, and it used to take me just over 20 minutes. Now it’s nearly 40 minutes,” she said.

The city commends residents for their continued patience and efforts to reduce traffic congestion, but some residents have turned away from public transportation to avoid delays.

“My aunt and uncle, who work in the government, have been driving to work since the construction started because it’s faster,” said Przesiecki.

Allison Tanner, government worker, talks about her worst-ever commute through Ottawa traffic. [Video © Sabrina Nemis]

Susan Tolusso, a government worker who commutes downtown from Alta Vista, changed her daily routine to get around the construction.

“I used to take a local bus to the Transitway and then continue to Hurdman and pick up any bus downtown,”she said. “Then OC Transpo started closing stations, such as Lees and Campus, and the buses took a lot more time getting downtown and were jumping around the city. I was never sure where I would go!”

Sidewalks on either side of Kent Street are blocked off to pedestrians. [Photo © Sabrina Nemis]

Sidewalks on either side of Kent Street are blocked off to pedestrians. [Photo © Sabrina Nemis]

She now takes the 1 on Bank Street to get downtown, or drives because it’s faster.

“Trouble is, parking is expensive and on your way home, you have to drive several blocks out of your way because of all the one-way streets,” said Tolusso.

The city encourages residents to stay in the know about updates through various means such as checking and, following the city’s Twitter accounts, and checking the OC Transpo transit and Ottawa Nav mobile apps.


Fourth year journalism student at Carleton University

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