Residents open to two-way traffic in Centretown

Jack Wylie remembers when Metcalfe St. ran both ways.

Back in those days, Wellington St. and Somerset Ave. were the key routes to get to the west end, the Queensway didn’t exist, and streetcars ran down Sparks St.

During rush hour now, “it probably moves traffic better one-way, going down in the morning and leaving at night,” said Wylie.

Other residents, though, seem open to the Centretown community design plan: converting Metcalfe St. to a two-way road, followed by Lyon St., Kent St. and O’Connor St., in that order.

“I don’t think it would complicate life if they had it both ways,” said Belva Cousens, who moved downtown three weeks ago.

“I’m from Toronto. They don’t have this many one-way main thoroughfares.”

The plan was released last week; a technical review of the Queensway ramps would be required.

“I think they definitely should do it and they should do this to more streets in Ottawa,” said Valeria Khokhlova.

Not only is traffic here bad, she said, “just the way the road flows is very terrible and driving in Ottawa is terrible because you can’t get where you want, having to turn all these different ways. It’s very complex, even when it shouldn’t be.”

Consultants working on the plan report one-way streets aren’t being maximized for the entire day — drivers primarily benefit during peak periods.

Motorists would have more options with two-ways, and bicyclists and pedestrians will be safer.

Still, “for the peak hours, it’ll make a mess later,” said Wylie.

“O’Connor is terrible at night, trying to get out on the Queensway there. We went down one evening at 5 o’clock, trying to get through, and it took us 35 minutes.”

Wylie, an Ottawa native, recently returned to the capital.

“The whole city, I’m familiar with it, but I wasn’t familiar with these one-way streets but I got quickly acclimatized to them, you know? Every second one is one-way in the opposite direction,” he said.

Cousens lived in Bytown in the ’70s.

“It was easy to get around but there were what, 40,000 people? So you have to make some thoughtful changes,” said Cousens.

The design plan will be submitted to council’s planning committee in December.

A pilot would use Metcalfe St. between McLeod and Wellington streets, which have low volume.

Connections to the highway wouldn’t be impacted.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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