But it goes through McLaurin Bay, Lower Duck Island or Kettle Island, not near me, right?
To make sure the public doesn't pay attention, NCC decided long ago not to call it the Orleans Bridge or Rockciffe Park & Manor Park bridge, they knew that would get immediate public attention. Instead the two Orleans options are called McLaurin Bay and Lower Duck Island since the bridge would go through those spots before landing in Orleans. The remaining Kettle Island option would go through Manor Park, near Rockcliffe Park.
Doesn't the government talk about this every 5 years and then it goes away?
Historically that has been the case, but this time things are different. For one, this time there is pre-construction work that has been ongoing since early October 2022 happening right here in the river off of Orleans. That has never happened before. Secondly, the government has hired for a program office in the PSPC that will oversee the construction contract, also has never happened before. Thirdly, this time the government has decided to forget about what all of their prior studies over many decades have indicated, that the "corridor 5" or "Kettle Island route" closer to the centre of Ottawa is by far the best, now they've given up on that due to community pressure there and targeting Orleans in the hopes that no one will notice until the contract is signed and then our comunity won't be able to challenge it.
Does the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa want this bridge?
No, in fact both have come out strongly against it in 2022 (as well as in 2013, the second most recent time this issue arose) saying that it was not a priority at all, not necessary and that the substantial funds the bridge will require would be better spent on just about anything else. With that said, as of October 2022 there is of course a new major and a new city council, so it remains to be seen what the city's current position is.
Will it really hurt my property value in Orleans?
Orleans is a suburb or bedroom community of Ottawa, many people buy here versus elsewhere due to the relatively quick commute to downtown. If suddenly that commute is extended significantly or they are forced to switch from a car to the LRT to make the new commute somewhat less horrible, suddenly many other neighbourhoods look more appealing than Orleans and buyers will look elsewhere. To then compete with these other areas, house sellers in Orleans will have to drop their price to account for the less attractive commute times. The new bridge also means competing with real estate in Eastern Gatineau that will suddenly have a better commute to downtown than we do! House prices there are significantly cheaper than Orleans today so we will have to have large price drops to compete. Another advantage currently of Orleans is our beautiful riverfront, the sounds of nature, the biking and walking trails along it, etc. but this will all be ruined as well by the new bridge, thereby also lowering prices.
Come on, how could it possibly impact my commute that much?
Don't let recent memories of pandemic life and empty highways fool you, remember back to how horrific "the split" (where the 174 meets the 417) was every single morning as you drove to your job downtown...it was maddening! Even just due to the federal government's start in September 2022 of "return to office", the traffic is getting bad again. Now imagine that plus all of the federal government fully in hybrid mode plus with thousands of heavy diesel trucks from Quebec making their way to the 417....first they will slowly merge on to the 174 before the Montreal Road exit causing a large slow down...then the sheer volume of trucks and traffic from Quebec combined with the 174 will all converge on "the split" and come to a complete standstill for half an hour or more. The bonus is, if you have good cell coverage, you'd have plenty of time to Zoom from your parked car!
I'm work from home (WFH) anyway, why does this matter to me?
While it is true that the federal government has been primarily WFH during the pandemic, starting in September 2022 there has been a significant shift in many if not most departments and agencies to move to a hybrid model with 2-3 days a week in the office in downtown Ottawa. Perhaps your department or agency is still WFH but that cannot last, you will eventually be downtown again for 2-3 days a week, the political pressure to "get the government back to work" is too strong to ignore.
Isn't it important for people in Ottawa to be close to the warehouses in Gatineau?
All of the warehouses that Amazon uses to service Ottawa and Orleans are actually already on this side of the river, one is on Boundary Road close to Orleans due to it's proximity to the 417. Very little of the truck traffic from Quebec would be destined for Ottawa, it's just going through here on to Toronto and elsewhere. The existing traffic studies, although outdated and pre-pandenic (which is a huge problem!), showed that very little of the traffic from Gatineau is actually coming to or going from the east end of the city (Orleans). There is no benefit.
Won't it just impact a tiny bit of the riverfront and the Greenbelt?
The bridge is going to run diagonally across the river, so not straight across, which will impact a significantly longer length of the riverfront visually, but also with noise and actual pollution, than just the width of the new bridge. Then the highway from the bridge will proceed in to the farm land in the Greenbelt that is between the Jeanne D'Arc on-ramp and the Montreal Road off-ramp.
I live in Orleans but use Innes to get downtown, will this impact me?
The traffic volume all around the split will increase significantly, so yes, you will still be impacted assuming you are eventually using the 417 to get downtown. As well, some of the traffic that used to use the highway will move over to Innes.
Shouldn't we want to help get trucks out of downtown?
Sure but this bridge won't be the solution, the government's own studies say it even! If a new bridge is built in the optimal Kettle Island location (which isn't happening since Orleans is now the preferred target), only a 15% reduction would be seen. With a bridge in Orleans, this reduction would be a lot less than that even.
So what should be done then?
One option is to simply wait. Let things stabalize with WFH, "hybrid", full time back to the office, etc. all still up in the air. When future traffic patterns are actually reasonably forecastable, then have a discussion on what the future problems will be and what the appropriate solutions are.
The other option is to use the much more efficient option of the 3 proposed routes, the one that goes through Manor Park that connects Quebec directly to the 417 while avoiding the 174 and the "split".