Ottawa St, from King St to Mill St in central Kitchener, currently a two lane road flanked by driveways, single family homes, and some industry, is about to get a whole lot busier.
On the books for this 1 km stretch, according to the Region of Waterloo, are plans to:
- Widen the road from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. (link)
- Install dedicated biking infrastructure. (link and map)
- Run the northbound leg of the LRT line. (link)
In total, 1 LRT lane, 4 car lanes, and 2 bike lanes (if not better, segregated biking infrastructure).
That’s an awful lot to fit in the 20 metre right-of-way (pg 7). Comparing to road layouts planned for other sections of the LRT, it is apparent that this is a large amount to fit in the 30 metres between the front doors of the houses lining this stretch.
It is admirable to intend Ottawa St to serve all of these purposes, and there is no doubt that it is ripe for a rebuild and redesign, but there needs to be a holistic review of what we want to do with the corridor, and what we need to do with it, before we start digging.
If we blindly move forward with current plans for all of the road uses, it is likely that there will be great impact at great cost to the homes on Ottawa. At best, many homes will lose the majority of their lawns, and at worst, an entire side of the street will be expropriated, just as is happening on Weber St. Either way, this would be unnecessarily disruptive to an otherwise stable neighbourhood.
What can be done to mitigate this? Something needs to move, and that should be the LRT which would be rerouted to Borden Ave.