The closure of Ottawa’s Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) during the summer months has stirred controversy and sparked discussions about its impact on traffic in the city. The road, owned by the National Capital Commission (NCC), was closed to vehicular access for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week between Canada Day and Labour Day as part of the NCC’s active use campaign. While the campaign aimed to promote alternative modes of transportation such as cycling and walking, concerns have been raised about the resulting traffic issues and the necessity of the closure.
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe expressed discontent with the closure, arguing that it was causing traffic disruptions on surrounding streets. He also questioned whether cyclists and pedestrians were using the QED enough to justify its closure, citing the presence of a nearby multi-use pathway. Contrary to the NCC’s assertion that the QED is not a commuter route, a city report describes it as a “critical link” connecting the downtown core to several nearby neighborhoods in the south end of the city.
A report prepared for the city’s transportation committee meeting includes data from previous years’ closures and highlights the concerns raised by increased traffic volumes. The study found that vehicular volume at the intersection of O’Connor Street and Fifth Avenue increased significantly during the 2022 closure. Furthermore, the report identifies substantial increases in traffic on O’Connor Street, exceeding its capacity to manage.
The impact of the closure on emergency services is another aspect that has come under scrutiny. The report states that the Ottawa Fire Service had to reroute around 30 percent of its service calls or experienced delays while navigating through the closure points.
While the report acknowledges that pedestrian and cyclist usage on the QED was comparable to or even greater than the usage on the adjacent pathway, critics argue that the closure may not be warranted given the availability of alternative routes.
Moving forward, the city plans to continue collecting and analyzing traffic data to better understand the impacts of the QED closure on the surrounding community. Collaboration with the NCC will also be pursued to facilitate a comprehensive assessment of the situation.
Q: Why was the Queen Elizabeth Driveway closed during the summer?
A: The closure was part of the National Capital Commission’s active use campaign aimed at promoting alternative modes of transportation.
Q: What were the concerns raised about the closure?
A: Concerns included increased traffic on surrounding streets, potential lack of use by cyclists and pedestrians to justify the closure, and the impact on emergency services.
Q: What does the city report say about the traffic impact?
A: The report highlights significant increases in traffic volumes on nearby streets and identifies instances where traffic exceeded the capacity of certain roads.
Q: How will the city address these concerns?
A: The city plans to continue collecting and analyzing traffic data, collaborate with the National Capital Commission, and engage with internal stakeholders to understand and document the impacts.