Early light-rail construction begins downtown

A preliminary stage of LRT construction began Sunday around the University of Ottawa campus in a step likely to cause headaches for commuters.

Passengers on the bus-only Transitway between Campus and Laurier stations will see their route changed on downtown streets to make way for preliminary work on the $2.1-billion, multi-year project.

OC Transpo vehicles now operate on the east side of Nicholas Street as well as bus-only lanes on Laurier Avenue. Additionally, a bus station on Laurier Avenue moved slightly north. The city expects this arrangement to remain in place until 2018, when the light rail is scheduled for completion.

The construction is just one of many facets of the 12.5-kilometre, 13-station project. Rideau Transit Group Ontario, headed by Toronto’s ACS Infrastructure, is the consortium performing the work.

Developers along the proposed light-rail line were put on notice in March when Coun. Peter Hume, who heads the city’s planning committee, warned he is prepared to hike the development charge to help pay for a portion of the project – the largest in the city’s history.

A major construction project in association with LRT began in May when a $226 million widening of the Queensway began. Buses will use the new lanes between Nicholas Street and the split between Highway 417 and Regional Road 174 while the Transitway is converted to rail.