Public input sought for overpass reconstruction

Garrett Barry, Centretown News
The Kent Street overpass is slated for “rapid reconstruction” next year.
Plans for the “rapid reconstruction” of the Queensway bridge overpass on Kent Street are now on display in several locations throughout Centretown – city hall, the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch, and the McNabb Recreation Centre – as well as online.

The proposed design and construction report will be displayed until Dec. 23 so that residents of Centretown, the Glebe and elsewhere can voice any concerns about the plan, including the design, potential traffic disruption, noise levels or environmental concerns, all of which are addressed in the report.

This major engineering project is designed to modernize and improve the highways infrastructure to extend its service life to 2089; the last major renovation works to the bridge took place in 1985. 

The entire project is scheduled to take place during the 2015 construction season. 

According to a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transport, the replacement process will only require about 17 hours of labour, though the preparatory work will take several months.

Beginning in spring 2015, the new bridge will be built on a small piece of land adjacent to the Queensway (on the north side of Chamberlain Avenue between Kent and Bank streets, across from The Works Burger Bistro). The existing bridge will then be cut out and moved away while the new bridge is installed in its place.

If the project were completed with traditional staged construction, it would have been a two-year ordeal resulting in long-term lane closures, daytime and nighttime construction, as well as traffic disruptions to more than 100,000 drivers.

“The use of this (rapid reconstruction) technology speeds construction and considerably reduces traffic disruptions, thereby helping to mitigate against harmful effects to the environment” the spokesperson says. 

While constructing the new overpass bridge, several other additions will be built alongside it in the staging zone.

On the north side of Highway 417, a new snow fence will be installed and the south side will be designed to accommodate the future installation of a 5.0 metre high noise barrier.

Since construction will take place at night – which could last from spring to autumn – in order to avoid traffic congestion, an exemption from the noise by-law will have to be obtained. 

“Night-time construction activities many include saw cutting, roadway excavation, paving, placement of granular materials and concrete, construction of barrier and retaining walls, installation of roadway protection systems, drainage works, and other construction activities” the report says.

Some road and lane closures will still be in effect during the construction period, however the only full closures will be during the weekend of the “rapid reconstruction”.

Potential closures and lane reductions include, the Kent Street eastbound off-ramp being reduced to one lane, night-time lane reduction of Chamberlain Avenue and the closure of the sidewalk on the east side of Kent Street North.

These are only a few of the potential traffic-related inconveniences and not all of them will be permanent throughout the spring and summer. construction time.

Thomas McVeigh, president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association, says that he hopes that the final project will make the underpass safer for all residents.
“I hope that the rebuilt would improve the pedestrian and bike links under the tunnel between Centretown and the Glebe. Making it safer for Glashan students to walk or bike is important, along with all other residents,” McVeigh says.