Today’s letters: Build bridge at Kettle Island before replacing Alexandra

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Monday, Jan. 22: Ottawa-Gatineau needs to solve its east-end traffic woes, a reader says. You can write to us too, at [email protected]

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Build the bridge at Kettle Island first

Re: Replacing the Alexandra: Ottawa’s new bridge is challenged with the heavy weight of symbolism, Jan. 6.

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Thank you for bringing attention to the NCC’s plans for the replacement of the Alexandra Bridge and highlighting alternatives.

While I support the continued use of the current bridge for non-vehicular traffic promoted by the Alexandra Bridge Coalition, the main reason for not replacing the bridge now is that it is not the new interprovincial bridge we require at this time.

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A new bridge in the east end of Ottawa-Gatineau is urgently required and should be the next new bridge built, for many reasons:

1. The urgent need to get truck traffic out of downtown Ottawa to greatly reduce the toxic air pollution residents and visitors there are subject to;

2. To reduce the amount of vehicle traffic driving through downtown Ottawa and lessen the traffic congestion, saving drivers in the area time and money, and making the downtown a much safer and enjoyable place to live, visit and work;

3. To alleviate the kilometre-long queues of traffic on the westbound Sussex-Rockcliffe parkway in the afternoon, caused by Quebec residents working in eastern Ottawa and travelling home across the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. Most of these vehicles would use a new east-end bridge at Kettle Island (the location recommended in numerous studies) if it existed;

4. To reduce the long queues of vehicles exiting Highway A-5 to eastern Gatineau just after crossing the Macdonald-Cartier bridge. This traffic would also be removed from the heavily congested Highway 148, thus significantly reducing congestion on that roadway also;

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5. The Alexandra Bridge can remain open during the construction of the Kettle Island Bridge. If the Alexandra Bridge is replaced before the Kettle Island Bridge is built, much of the displaced traffic would be transferred to the already congested Macdonald-Cartier Bridge;

6. Delaying replacement of the Alexandra Bridge would allow more time to explore a possible LRT-tram route around downtown Ottawa and Hull, and allow time to properly design the bridge to accommodate this transport link.

The current road-bridge system for handling interprovincial movements of heavy vehicles in the National Capital Region and all vehicles on the eastern sides of Ottawa and Gatineau is inadequate and has imposed a heavy burden on people in the affected areas.  The problem has steadily gotten worse for decades and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Replacing the Alexandra Bridge will not solve the problem. A bridge at Kettle Island will, however, fix or at least greatly alleviate the problem and should be built first while keeping the Alexandra Bridge open for active transportation as long as possible.

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Replacing the Alexandra Bridge with the planned completion date in the early 2030s will push back the building of the new, urgently required east-end Ottawa bridge decades. It’s time to rethink the interprovincial bridge requirements for Ottawa-Gatineau and solve the real transportation, air quality, and safety problems affecting people in the area.

David Biggs, Orléans

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