10 Jun City blitz to ease downtown gridlock starts today
As of this morning, the City of Ottawa will be cracking down on traffic violations in the core in an effort to relieve rush-hour gridlock.
The city is rolling out a number of initiatives over the next two weeks — like having more police and bylaw enforcement officers in the downtown — until traffic dies down during summer break.
There will be parking patrol officers monitoring key locations to prevent drivers from parking in bus lanes or no-stopping zones, the city said.
They’ll also be watching for drivers who ambitiously try to beat traffic lights, only to end up stuck in the intersection.
“When that occurs it means traffic has to merge into adjacent lanes and creates more congestion,” said Phil Landry, director of traffic services with the city.
Traffic control staff who operate and adjust traffic signals will also be focused on the downtown over the next two weeks.
Landry said the city has been getting a lot of feedback about the delays, partly caused by the closure of the Chaudière Bridge — first due to flooding, and now because of summer repairs.
‘You cannot move’
“It’s been very stressful because you’re stuck in traffic. You cannot move,” said taxi driver Michel Michel.
“You’re losing business and the customer’s also under stress.”
Michel said he doesn’t believe infrastructure is keeping up with Ottawa’s growth. He’d like to see better traffic planning before construction gets underway, and also thinks taxi drivers should be allowed to use bus lanes during rush hour since they’re also transporting commuters.
Traffic is becoming a problem outside of rush hour, he added, since major arteries like Elgin Street and Bronson Avenue are closed for construction.
‘Not a magic pill’
The downtown core is also facing other obstacles like the delay of the LRT, which is supposed to alleviate congestion.
During the two weeks the new ‘mobility plan’ is in place, there will be new turn restrictions in place, including along Slater and O’Connor streets since traffic can back up into the transit lane.
“[We want] to keep traffic moving as best as possible — and especially transit — so that we can get them out of the core a little more effectively,” said Landry.
Landry said as construction work increases during the summer, it gets more challenging to keep volumes manageable.
“It’s not a magic pill where all of a sudden on Monday morning there’s going to be no traffic congestion,” said Landry.
It’s not the city’s first crack at this kind of solution, as Landry said they’ve tried this kind of blitz in the past.
As for Mayor Jim Watson, he said he understands the gridlock has been frustrating for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
“There’s going be a lot of tow-trucking taking place in the next couple of weeks,” Watson said.
“People have to understand, by their selfish move of parking illegally and blocking one lane of traffic at rush hour, it affects thousands of other people.”