Elgin Street to reopen next month

A closed-off stretch of Elgin Street is expected to reopen to two-way traffic next month for the first time since January.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeted Wednesday he was "very excited" to announce that as of Dec. 16, traffic would once again flow along the downtown commercial strip.

Elgin Street is in the midst of a multi-million-dollar streetscape rehabilitation project that includes burying the power lines and introducing more bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

The stretch of Elgin between Somerset and Catherine streets was closed to drivers in January 2019, and has since essentially been one large construction site — to the chagrin of some local business owners.

OC Transpo routes 5, 14 and 114 will also resume running along Elgin as of Dec. 16, the city said.

While traffic has returned, that doesn't mean the project itself is about to wrap up. Construction will resume early next year, as hydro poles still need to be removed along the street's west side, buildings need to be connected to underground services, and other streetscaping elements need to be completed.

Jean Delisle/CBC

Cost has risen

In an update Wednesday, the City of Ottawa noted the project's cost had risen to roughly $40 million — an increase from the $36.3 million it was initially pegged at.

"This was the original estimate prior to finalizing the design and full scope of the project. As with all projects, the preliminary and detailed design were refined and the cost estimates updated to become more accurate," said Carina Duclos, manager of design and construction, in an email to CBC News.

The work on Elgin is still expected to wrap up before the end of 2020, the city said. 

I Dig Elgin, a group formed by local merchants and residents after the project was announced, tweeted Wednesday that while there might still be some lane reductions next year, no road closures are scheduled.

A motion to extend free parking at Ottawa City Hall on evenings and weekends through the 2020 construction season will be brought forward at city council.