LRT Stage 2: Area residents frustrated about gaps in future noise barrier

Residents in the east end of Ottawa who were promised a noise barrier to block out the sounds of Stage 2 LRT construction say they want to the city to deliver after being told the wall could not be built.

Construction on the multi-billion-dollar project to extend LRT east from Blair Road to Trim Road, west from Tunney’s Pasture to Moodie and Algonquin College, and south from Greenboro to Riverside South and the Ottawa Airport is ongoing. The eastern extension is expected to be complete by 2024.

In a winter 2023 update, the city says solid progress is being made, but construction will continue to affect residents through the year.

“Construction activities that may be expected to impact area residents include hours of work, noise from crews and equipment, traffic detours, site lighting, as well as pedestrian and vehicle mobility,” the city says.

“Residents should be aware that throughout 2023 there will continue to be nightwork across the alignment. A weekly summary of nightwork will also be shared at the outset of each week.”

Some who live east of Orléans Boulevard, however, received a notice saying planned sound barrier walls would not be erected in some areas.

“In several areas, noise walls have been descoped or not approved based on the criteria set by the City of Ottawa’s Planning Department,” the notice says.

Lynda Fournier received the notice. She lives right near the highway and was waiting for that extra peace and quiet.

“Right now it’s pretty noisy,” she said. “We were told in 2022 that they were going to build a noise barrier wall. It sucks, because frankly – like, we have a little patio out here and we really can’t sit out here until about midnight in the summer time, when the traffic is much less.”

The approximate area where a sound barrier wall would have been built at the north-east section of Cholette Crescent. The city of Ottawa now says the wall cannot be built in that area. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

The city says about 4.5 km of sound barriers are being built on the south side of the highway, but a 200 m stretch near Cholette Crescent cannot go ahead.

“As part of the detailed design phase, major utility, sewers and hydro were identified that conflict with the proposed noise wall. Due to the conflicts, this small section of the wall was removed from the project scope and area residents were recently informed of this change,” said director of rail construction Michael Morgan in a statement to CTV News.

“There will be minimal impacts, if any, on the sound emitted from future train operations and this change will not add additional noise above the current ambient traffic in the area.”

Orléans West-Innes Coun. Laura Dudas said she shares residents’ frustrations.

“This sound wall was going to provide a bit of a remedy towards what has been happening historically and this project was going to be an opportunity to leverage this construction to get it done,” she said.

“Now that folks are finding out that because of underground and above ground utilities that this just isn’t going to possible,  it’s incredibly disappointing for them and I echo their concerns that they were promised something that won’t be possible.”

Prep work for walls on the south side of the 174 was undertaken in 2022, and the city expects work to continue on noise walls between Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard and Orléans Boulevard, Orléans Boulevard and Stoneboat Crescent, and at Terra Nova Estates, east of Tenth Line Road.

STAGE 2 PROGRESS BEING MADE

The city says in its winter update that progress was made on noise walls on the north side of Highway 174. The notice, however, was sent to residents who live south of Highway 174, where work on the walls remains underway. A notice shared to the Convent Glen – Orléans Wood Community Association Facebook page says a proposed wall near Cholette Crescent cannot be completed because of conflicts with underground utilities.

So far, the city says, 60 per cent of the rail for the eastern extension has been laid, including a complete installation in both directions between Blair Station and the planned Jeanne d’Arc Station, and from Trim Road to Tenth Line Road. The tie-in to the Stage 1 LRT station at Blair was completed in October.

The city says work on the five east-end stations is on schedule to be completed this year.

“Activities that will take place at stations in 2023, in addition to finishing works within the stations themselves, include the installation of station noise walls, installation of traction power substations (TPSS) and the construction of a bus operator building at Place d’Orléans Station,” the update says.

–With files from CTV’s Peter Szperling.

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