Fifth – Clegg Footbridge a win for entire city
Construction set to begin next fall, open 2019
Although construction for the Fifth Avenue – Clegg Street footbridge is just under a year away, the project can’t come soon enough for community leaders on both sides of the Rideau Canal.
The $21-million pedestrian bridge will connect residents from the Glebe, Old Ottawa East, Alta vista and Old Ottawa South, making commuting between the four neighbourhoods much easier, safer and more enjoyable.
The bridge will also cut traffic in the Glebe, as it will make it possible for neighbours in the east to take bikes, scooters or sneakers across the Rideau Canal at Fifth Avenue. That means increased options for heading to games and concerts at TD Place.
“The GCA has long supported the idea of a footbridge as a way of expanding non-vehicular traffic to Lansdowne Park,” says Glebe Community Association President Christine McAllister.
“It will also be a great way to connect the three immediate communities of the Glebe, Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South, as well as Alta Vista.”
McAllister’s latter point is key in all of this, as the footbridge is not only for the Glebe or Old Ottawa East, but will benefit anyone living on the either side of the river, even those in Old Ottawa South, Alta Vista, and employees heading to and from the Civic Hospital. Cyclists will soon be able take a dedicated bike lane from the hospital to Parliament Hill. The project is a boon for the entire city, says Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko.
“Just one bridge? It effectively connects two significant communities now easily right in the middle,” says Chernushenko, a long-time cyclist who’s been rolling through the city for two decades.
While some would argue that there are two canal bridges about a kilometer each way from Fifth Avenue in the Bank Street Bridge and the Pretoria Bridge, Chernushenko says a bridge in the middle changes the game for many families on both banks of the canal, and will likely encourage more public transportation in both communities.
“It’s a very long way by foot, and a relatively long way by bike,” says Chernushenko.
“It’s the difference for a parent telling their grade 10 or 12 kid, ‘walk or take your bike’…or saying, ‘hey, lets’s pop over to the Green Door for dinner,’ or, ‘let’s go to the Glebe and window shop. Let’s go to the game, and not take a car.’”
Chernushenko says that while traffic disruptions in the Glebe will be minimal, the current cycling and walking trail along Queen Elizabeth Drive will be closed for significant portions over 2017-2018. He did confirm though, that ice skating and boating on the canal, would not be affected throughout construction.
The new bridge will feature long ramps on each side leading to a straight bridge deck across the canal. The city moved away from its original curved deck to save $3 million on the project.
The footbridge could even connect Lansdowne Park with the LRT, if users don’t mind a short hike to the closest station at Lees Avenue.
For residents across the canal, the bridge will be a “game changer,” according to former Old Ottawa East Community Association President John Dance. He says that those who will benefit most aren’t just sports and concert fans heading to Lansdowne, nor are they hungry shoppers looking for unique Glebe deals. He says its entire families whose quality of life will go up immediately when that first sneaker steps its way across the bridge.
“It means a lot for this community. There are probably about 400 students in the various schools who will be able to use it every day,” he says.
“There are a lot of kids on our side that go to Glebe Collegiate and a lot of kids on the Glebe side that go to Immaculata High School. This is an easier and safer way for them to get to school every day. On a daily basis, this means a huge amount.”
Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna says the footbridge is integral to economic growth in the city and will create much more sustainable neighbourhoods in the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and Old Ottawa East. The feds clearly believe in the project, as they have chipped in half of the cost – $10.5 million for the bridge to take form.
“Getting federal funding in place for this footbridge was an important campaign commitment of mine and I was thrilled to see this happen during the first year of my mandate,” said McKenna.
“Good public transit infrastructure is fundamental to economic growth and building an inclusive society. I’m very pleased to see that this collaborative funding program will provide support to the construction of a pedestrian and cycling bridge to connect Old Ottawa East, Old Ottawa South and the Glebe. This footbridge will make walking and cycling safer options for Ottawa Centre residents and will contribute to a more livable and environmentally sustainable city.”
Chernushenko said shovels will be in the ground in September of next year, and he expects to be rolling across it sometime in fall 2019.