Ottawa LRT tunnel connected below Rideau Street: Watson

Construction of the city’s light-rail line has crossed a major milestone after crews connected both ends of the 2.5-kilometre tunnel beneath downtown Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson said Thursday morning.

 “The tunnel is completely excavated,” Mr. Watson said during a National Capital Commission board meeting.

Rail officials were later quoted as saying complete excavation would be finished by February.

He said there is still a significant amount of work to do, such as fitting up the stations and planning how both OC Transpo and Gatineau’s STO buses will connect to the rail line.

“We don’t want to get rid of our all our buses on streets like Wellington and Queen and Albert and Slater just to have them replaced with even more buses from STO,” Mr. Watson said. “But at the same time, we have to respect that STO customers don’t want to have an extra transfer or two extra transfers.”

He told the NCC board that Ottawa and Gatineau municipal officials are working on a compromise “that will satisfy both sides.”

The first stage of Ottawa’s new light-rail line will run for 12.5 kilometres between Tunney’s Pasture in the west and Blair station in the east when it opens to passengers in 2018.

Testing on the 13-station line started late last year.

A second phase is envisioned to extend the line to Trim Road in Orleans as well as Bayshore and Baseline in the west by 2023.