Monday, December 21, 2009

Ottawa LRT gets funds; area commuter service study eyed

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Ontario's provincial government has committed C$600 million (US$568 million) toward Ottawa's C$2.1 billion (US$2.0 billion) transit expansion project, most likely involving light rail transit. The C$2.1 billion is part of a C$6.6 billion transit plan meant to expand the Canadian capital’s transit reach through the next 25 years, including more expansive rail options to and from downtown.

"This is the single largest transit infrastructure investment Ontario has made in Ottawa's history," Premier Dalton McGuinty said at a news conference Friday. "It will help get people out of their cars and into clean, efficient public transit. I am confident that the city will be prudent as they decide what is best for Ottawa."

Ontario’s participation had been considered problematic, as it balked over a plan to build a rail line from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Road, including a 3.2-kilometer (2-mile) tunnel under downtown, and extend Transitway bus service into more suburbs. Ottawa now will seek federal funds to match those of the provincial government.

For their part, federal officials have announced funding for a feasibility study of commuter rail service running from Ottawa to Pontiac and Renfrew. Member of Parliament Lawrence Cannon, who represents Pontiac and also serves as federal Foreign Affairs minister, said the federal portion of the C$272,000 study will be C$136,000.