Posted by: righthandblink | February 13, 2009

Ottawa’s Big Dig

South Boston Tunnel

South Boston Tunnel

The latest figures indicate that Ottawa plans to spend $4.7 billion on a new Light Rail System for Ottawa. That should is a concern! We keep taking aspirin for the headache but we don’t relieve any of the stresses that cause the headache in the first place. Let’s just take a minute and do some thinking out of the box.

Why do we need the light rail system? There are those who would say that we have too many cars on the road, that there is too much traffic congestion. It takes too long for commuters to get to work. There may also be retail businesses that need clientele and the shoppers stay away if they can’t easily get to the stores. A lot of people are upset. We saw that with the bus drivers strike. Fair enough. Then there are the hockey games. Ever try to get to Scotiabank Place on game night. Who would want to go in that traffic! Now that’s important!

So let’s say for a minute that we really do need this Light Rail System. According to Councilor Clive Doucet this new Light Rail System will not provide any service to any community beyond the greenbelt, what we call Suburbia. This new system will only service the core of Ottawa. For those of you who don’t know, Ottawa now extends all the way to Kempville and Ashton. This city is so large that our per capital density disqualifies the city for funding from the province for transportation. The money goes to Toronto. So after the system is finished how will all the people who live outside the greenbelt get to work downtown?

The City says the transit plan is affordable. City Treasurer Marian Simulik said that the first increment is going to cost $2.1 billion, with the city’s share being $700 million. The funds will be raised “from reserves, development charges, gas tax revenues and debt financing.” Frankly people, where were all these options the last time the councilors said they had to have a tax increase? The only way the city could afford to keep the royal swans was through a donation of $300,000 from IBM.

Let me give you an example. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority constructed the South Boston Tunnel for what was suppose to cost $14.6 billion. Construction began in 1991 with completion scheduled for 2007. After 16 years of construction, it ended with a staggering price of $22 billion. This project is fondly referred to as “The Big Dig.”

At the beginning of the project, Congressman Barney Frank asked, “Rather than lower the expressway, wouldn’t it be cheaper to raise the city?” The project has incurred criminal arrests, escalating costs, death, leaks, and charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials. The Massachusetts Attorney General is demanding contractors refund taxpayers $108 million for “shoddy work” including some outright fraud by some contractors.

What is really shocking about the project is that they knew, before they started, that in ten years the number of cars on the road would double making the net effect to traffic congestion a net zero.

One person recently wrote this comment about the mayor and city council related to the bus strike “. . . Can you and city council . . . honestly believe that the economic loss, personal hardship and general harm to this city was worth it?” Do any of you realize that the chaos that happened during the bus strike will be just a drop in the bucket compared to what will happen to Ottawa if that Light Rail System is built?

With the increase in the number of cars on the road, when the new light-rail system is completed the congestion will still be the same. This insanity has to stop. It’s time to think out of the box. For example: if we stopped development of the downtown core and built all the new high rise office buildings out in the suburbs, outside of the greenbelt, then people wouldn’t have to drive to work and the new light-rail system wouldn’t even be needed at all. Hasn’t the RCMP moved out to Merivale and Price of Wales? This isn’t rocket science.


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© 2016, Right Hand Blink

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