Ottawa, ONT: More safety concerns raise the costs of grade-separation

14 Nov

The decision taken some years ago that busways and railways would continue to intersect at grade was brought into sharp focus in September 2013 when a train and bus collided with fatal consequences on a level crossing n South Nepean. The decision to shelve plans for grade-separation was one of cost of engineering grade separations in an essentially urban-suburban context.

Last week, there was a further incident which saw a bus narrowly avoid being hit by a train after it collided with a lowered level crossing barrier. This incident has led to Transport Canada informing the city that the Fallowfield level crossing is a “threat to safe railway operations,” and that the previous week’s event put “bus passengers, train passengers and the operator could have been at risk.”

The City now has until November 21st, 2014 to develop a way to “resolve these hazards or conditions.”
This is of note as much because of the wider history as the specific circumstances surrounding the most recent incident having led to assurances that all involved parties had been addressed and no further investigation was required.

Simplistically, the continuing pattern of incidents and accidents has challenged the basis of the original decision not to grade-separate. However, what is needed is a decision to reverse that decision and press ahead with grade-separation say activists. This is, they say, implicit in the Transport Canada position. Who pays is a key question that has to be answered before any grade-separation project can be progressed.

The 2004 decision not to grade-separate Woodroffe and Fallowfield level crossings came on the back of the estimate for the project ballooning from CAD40 million to CAD110 million. So, some serious thinking is needed a decade on to reduce the costs of grade-separation and at the same time build a coalition of those willing to help fund the grade-separations that the community now sees as necessary.

2 Responses to “Ottawa, ONT: More safety concerns raise the costs of grade-separation”

  1. Andrew Fraser November 14, 2014 at 16:42 #

    I wonder which came first. It would seem from Transport Canada’s comments that it was the railway. If that wasn’t the case, surely Transport Canada would have said that the level crossing was a threat to to safe ROAD operation. Whatever the case, it must surely be the entire community that pays, through the tax system. To see road and rail authorities descending into squabbles about it is pathetic. Time for a clear political lead on the matter?

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