Marianne Wilkinson

Councillor, Kanata North

March/Eagleson Bridge Closed for Pedestrians

Update February 5, 2015: Progress

Last week I had a meeting with representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) as well as Councillor Hubley and City staff.  We dealt with the 3 objectives I reported on last week, and all were addressed.  MTO agreed to work with City staff to come up with changes to the ‘sidewalk’ on the west side of the bridge that would include ramps at the end for accessibility and be wide enough for snow equipment.  Work required would be done before next winter.  City staff indicated that sidewalks at both ends of the bridge were planned for 2017 and they are looking for ways to find funds to permit the work to occur in 2015.  Residents can help by raising this at the budget meeting in Kanata.  The third matter was removing snow this year. I’ve asked that staff find a way to remove snow after major snowfalls and I’ll report on the solution as soon as I hear back.

The meeting was very positive and also led to an agreement for the City and MTO to work more closely on MTO projects to ensure that safe crossings are available for pedestrians and cyclists as well as for vehicles.

Overview:

When the bridge was restored by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) over the past three years, it was to include a sidewalk along the West side.  What was actually built is too narrow for sidewalk plows and the steep curb at each end is not accessible by wheelchairs, strollers or  sidewalk plows.  I have recently met with City Staff and MTO and had an excellent meeting, looking at all the issues. MTO is looking at modifications to make the sidewalk accessible by a ramp, wide enough for a snow plow and without the drainage channel cutting across it. They will put together a design, in collaboration with the City, for implementation this year (before next winter). I’ve asked pedestrians to avoid using the sidewalk this winter for safety reasons, as there is a deep drainage cut across it and full maintenance is not possible.

City staff have said it is not safe for City crews to manually clear the snow, although they did so when the height of snow threatened to fall onto traffic on the highway below. Vehicles travel at very high speeds across the bridge and the only place for snow to go is back onto the roadway until it can be removed by truck. There is zero room for snow storage. I am still looking into ways the sidewalk can be maintained this winter. Stay tuned.

While inconvenient, the safest way to access Transit in the morning from the Eagleson Park and Ride is to take a bus across the overpass and transfer to a downtown bus.  In the evening, there are very few buses to take from the Park and Ride to Kanata North so people coming from downtown or from the Kanata South have still been walking across the bridge, despite the dangerous situation.  Please try to catch a bus going to the north side to avoid having to walk across the bridge.

As you may know, I pushed very hard to have the Province include a sidewalk on the March Eagleson bridge, and that is what is shown on their plans.  Then MTO built the bridge without a sidewalk, despite it being on their plans.  They are now stating they do not build sidewalks unless the City sidewalk is there but the City has stub ended the sidewalks partly along March and Eagleson, awaiting the sidewalk on the bridge!   It is not safe for the City to build them in advance as it would lead pedestrians to the bridge where it would dead end.