|May 13, 1957||Railway Age||Vol. 142 No. 19|
Retirement of through-city railroad trackage is the key to a plan under way at Ottawa, Ont., for relieving urban congestion. Rights of way thus abandoned will be used for arterial roads and parkways.
Duplicate trackage, wherever possible, is being eliminated and replaced by joint, CTC-governed, CNR-CPR operation in the greater terminal area. New freighthouses and new yards, too, are a part of the overall scheme which has already cost Canada's Federal District Commission some $3 million in abandonments and new line and facility construction alone—exclusive of land costs. Over $10 million has been expended to date on land for railways and parkways.
The entire project is slated to cost about $13 million for railway rearrangement and facilities exclusive of land, with the final step-construction of a new union passenger terminal-probably decades away.
Someone once termed it "growth congestion," But whatever the name. it's that situation created in urban areas as a result of growth in population, prosperity, motor traffic and industry. Many city governments are pondering how best to alleviate the congestion which has more than kept pace with the expansion within their boundaries. One city which has gone well beyond the planning, proposing and pondering stage is Ottawa.
Right now this city. capital of Canada and home to more than a quarter of a million, is in the midst of a multi-million-dollar redevelopment project:
Here's how it all came about:
Until recently, Ottawa was served by three railroads: the Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and New York Central. For the better part of a century, the city's orderly development has been complicated by railroad trackage and other rail facilities in what has become downtown Ottawa and in Hull, directly across the Ottawa river.
For years, crosstown and through-town trackage and centrally located freight terminal operations have seriously hampered urban development and were held responsible for blighting sections of the city's central region.
Joint CPR-CNR freight classification yards have been constructed south of the city on a likewise newly constructed main line. Site of future Union Station is indicated by circle.
Canada's Federal District Commission, originator and executor of the redevelopment project, found that more than 150 level grade crossings and blocked streets existed in the urban area. These are rapidly disappearing. under what the commission terms its "Master Plan." The fundamental element of this plan, according to S. B. Wass, railway consultant of the commission, was the solution of the city's railroad problem. Here's how they're going about solving that problem:
"The key to the whole undertaking," says the commission, "is the removal of practically all of the existing railways from the central parts of the urban area to the southern and eastern boundaries of Ottawa and the northern and western sections of Hull."
The rights of way thus made available will be used for arterial roads and parkways.
Of first importance, in the eyes of the commission, was the removal of the CNR's crosstown tracks and the attendant yard operations—especially at Bank street (see map). At this writing, CNR crosstown trackage has been completely abandoned and is being taken up. Relocation of this trackage was first recommended in 1915 and again in 1924—with little success.
The project now under way aims at using the abandoned right of way for a limited-access crosstown highway. This roadway—called the Queensway—will connect with highway 17 east and west of Ottawa (a link in the Trans-Canada Highway) constituting, in effect, a rerouting of the present highways to bypass the congested central governmental and commercial heart of the capital. Construction of the highway is scheduled to start later this year.
Work began in 1950 on Canada's Federal District Commission's "MasterPlan" for the urban development of Ottawa. Now in full swing, the job is expected to be completed sometime around 1982 when the new Union Station will be built.
The appearance of the city will be greatly improved as a result of the work now under way. Economic benefits to the railroads and the municipality will be even greater. Railroad operations in the city will be greatly simplified and less costly. One part of the project calls for establishment of a railway terminal company to simplify operations and eliminate, as much as possible, duplication of lines and facilities.
Railroad properties abandoned in the process will, the commission points out, permit greater urban redevelopment and improvement in the municipal tax structure, to say nothing of the savings and convenience which will evolve through the elimination of grade crossings.
Work according to the Master Plan was begun in earnest in 1950 on the construction of replacement rail facilities along the southern boundaries of Ottawa. A connection, 12 miles west of the Ottawa Union Station, was made (not shown on the map) between the CNR's Renfrew and Beachburg subdivisions, thus releasing the CNR crosstown tracks for abandonment. The connection was opened in 1952.
At the same time, 5½ miles of main track were constructed bypassing the central area of the city from the Rideau river to Hawthorne. Existing highways were carried over this line on bridges constructed at two locations. Construction was also completed of nine miles of yard trackage, a yard office, a freight car repair area and auxiliary facilities.
In 1952 work was begun on a CTC system to bring some 26 miles of CNR operation in the greater terminal area under the control of the dispatcher in Union Station. This system was placed in operation June 9, 1955.
On August 9 of that same year, the CNR transferred its freight classification and car maintenance operations from the Bank Street region on the old crosstown line to the new location.
With this shift, some 75 per cent of the CNR operations had been removed from the core of the city. A new CNR freight shed is now under construction in the southern portion of the city and will be opened later this year. As of the first of this year, the work thus far described had cost the commission an estimated $3 million, exclusive of land.
The commission is now looking at what it terms Stage II of the relocation project, calling for joint CNR-CPR operation of all rail facilities south of the Ottawa river. The establishment of joint operation will allow the retirement of considerable duplicate trackage and will require the construction of a number of connections between the two railroads as well as expansion of the CTC system to include CPR operations in the region.
When this work has been completed, it will be possible to abandon the CPR's Sussex and Carleton Place subdivision trackage within the city. In addition, CPR trackage will be removed from the Interprovincial bridge, permitting its exclusive use for motor traffic. The connection to Hull via the Prince of Wales bridge will remain and will continue to be operated by the CPR.
The present station facilities, built in 19l1—when Ottawa's population was less than half of what it is today—are to be rearranged. This year, the CNR local freighthouse and yard facilities will be moved to their new location just east of the Rideau river.
Track arrangements are being made for turning trains entering Union Station; henceforth, trains will be pushed, rather than pulled, into the station which will become "one-ended."
This will place passenger carrying cars under the train shed rather than beyond it as at present, and closer to street access.
The last phase of the redevelopment plan is scheduled for far in the future. At that time, when the population of the city has grown southward to the point where the new site will be closer and more accessible to the bulk of the population, it is contemplated that a new Union Station will be built. The present station will then be abandoned.
The commission points out that the railroad relocation phase of the national capital plan is now about two years ahead of schedule. It is expected that it will take another 25 years for its completion.
Interprovincial Bridge, linking Hull (foreground) with Ottawa, is destined to have its trackage removed, will serve exclusively for motor vehicle traffic.
Slated for abandonment is Ottawa's classic Union Station in the heart of the city's commercial area. When? Best guess to date is sometime about 25 years from now.