While ongoing issues with the first stage of Ottawa's LRT system take up much of the oxygen at city hall, construction on Stage 2 is well underway, and the evidence is hard to miss.
The Trillium Line to the airport and Riverside South will be the first to open in 2022, and has seen the most construction so far by builder SNC-Lavalin. Machines are coring down to bedrock to build the piers that will support the elevated tracks near the Ottawa airport and the EY Centre.
On the Confederation Line, Kiewit and Vinci Group will be shifting lanes on Highway 174 to Orléans to make room to build the track in the median. Similarly, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway is being shifted toward the Ottawa River for the western section of the LRT to be built.
Alongside those routes, residents have noticed that trees and vegetation have been cut back. Ottawa's rail construction director, Michael Morgan, has said two trees will be planted for every one that is cut down.
Stations will still be open-air
Many city councillors, however, want to see detailed designs for the Stage 2 light rail stations and are hoping for lessons to be learned from Stage 1, which has seen riders stand in the wet and cold.
"A lot of these stations are out in the open. Don't you think this is a priority now? This is Canada," said Carol Anne Meehan, councillor for Gloucester-Southgate.
But the possibility of enclosing future stations isn't a realistic one, said OC Transpo general manager John Manconi.
"This is is not a subway system. These are at-grade stations," he said. "To enclose them and heat them, that ship sailed nine years ago when you made the decision to go with this type of system."
Councillors and commuters have also raised concerns about the crowds at Blair and Tunney's Pasture stations, which funnel commuters from the city's buses onto the LRT.
Manconi said Blair and Tunney's Pasture will only remain transfer stations for a few years until Stage 2 is completed.
The city is holding drop-in information sessions this month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., about the coming construction related to Stage 2 of the LRT:
- Dec. 3 at the Ukrainian church at 1000 Byron Ave.
- Dec. 5 at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex at 1490 Youville Dr.
- Dec. 9 at the Churchill Seniors Centre at 345 Richmond Rd.
- Dec. 11 at Ben Franklin Place
- Dec. 12 Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre
South to the airport and Riverside South
East to Trim Road
West to Moodie