After five years, the final piece of track for Ottawa’s new light-rail transit system has been laid.
Politicians from all three levels of government participated in the ceremonial event on Friday echoing Donald Smith’s final pin into the Canadian Pacific railway 123 years ago.
“The excitement continues to build as we get closer to completing the city’s largest infrastructure project since the building of the Rideau Canal,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Today’s milestone demonstrates the constant progress that is being made on this transit project, which will truly transform our city.”
Politicians, city officials and media made their way by train into the tunnel a few hundred metres from the new University of Ottawa station. While underground, the mayor along with other dignitaries hammered rail clips to secure the final piece of rail into position
At a cost of $2.13 billion, the Confederation line consists of 25 km of rail from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station and will have 13 stations along the way. The trains will see several hundred thousand people a day riding the new cars through the downtown core.
The train that media rode on Friday was capable of holding 300 passengers, and cars will be doubled up during peak hours to accommodate the surge of passengers.
According to OC Transpo boss John Manconi, 17 of those 600 capacity cars will be running through the core at peak hours. Top speed on the track will be 50 km per hour between Blair and Cyrville stations as well as between Tremblay and St. Laurent stations.
Average speed will be 35 km per hour through the tunnels. There will also be full cellular service from all major providers throughout the underground portion of the track.
Also on hand at the ceremony was MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean Bob Chiarelli who, while mayor of Ottawa, began the LRT dream for Ottawa by building the O-train in 2001.
“It has been a long and winding road to this new beginning,” said Chiarelli. “We’re finally at the end and we can see daylight… and just think, it started 20 years ago in 1998 with the regional council pilot project for LRT.”
Seven city councils have sat since the first idea of an LRT system in Ottawa — it was approved in 1998, and now after 20 years, amalgamation and seven different councils, phase one is all but complete.