Friday, September 17, 2010

Ottawa Chamber of Commerce backs LRT

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The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce has issued a statementbacking the city’s C$2.1 billion (US$2.7 billion) Light Rail Transit Plan. The backing is considered politically significant, given the contentious nature of the project stretching across many years.

The group is recommending that the city “accelerate” its east-west LRT expansion plans, saying the current time table will “reduce the accessibility of the system and negatively impact ridershipand revenue generation for OC Transpo.”

LRT is the “best option” for keeping operational costs down and providing environmental benefits, the Chamber said.  Executive Director Erin Kelly said businesses across Ottawa will "benefit from an easy-to-use transit infrastructure.”

But Kelly also said the City of Ottawa should accelerate plans to expand light rail east into Orleans and west into Nepean and Kanata, saying “if people are forced to transfer at Tunney's Pasture or Blair Road ridership will suffer.”

Last June the federal government committed C$600 million (US$783 million) in funding for the project, which includes a two-mile tunnel in downtown Ottawa. Ontario committed another C$600 million to the project last December.