New Rideau River bridge an important link for Ottawa’s active transit network

Last Saturday, June 15, 2024, another important missing link in our Active Transportation network was opened to the public.

We now have a wonderful new and very wide bike, walk and roll bridge across the Rideau River, connecting Carleton University with Vincent Massey Park and beyond.

Guest post by Hans Moor.

Construction started 3.5 years ago and already two summers ago the bridge was lifted into place. Many of us wondered why it remained closed as it appeared no finishing work was being done for a while. We asked Councillor Brockington, and he explained that the bridge, as part of the LRT contract, was supposed to be handed over at the same time as the the entire project—i.e., when the first trains would officially start operations.

No one had foreseen the long delays, though, so the bridge too could not be handed over. Fortunately, common sense prevailed in the end and the bridge is now finally open to the public.

The bridge is approximately 60 m long and about 6 m wide and starts at the south end of University Drive. Residents might find it too far west to use it as an alternative for Billings Bridge, but we spoke to several cyclists and runners at the opening who were happy to start using the bridge.

A desirable future scenario for us is that the Sawmill Creek pathway running from South Keys along the storm ponds towards Mooney’s Bay station will eventually continue along the Trillium Line tracks towards the new bridge. This would establish a much-needed north–south cycling connection via Carleton University to the Hartwells Locks and the pathways along Colonel By Drive.

Beside the Councillors Menard and Brockington, we noticed Councillor Leiper and MPP Joel Harden in the crowd, as well as members of Bike Ottawa. City staff installed a bicycle and pedestrian counter on the bridge, and Councillor Menard mentioned possible ski options on the bridge.

Bike Ottawa president Florence Lehmann was interviewed for several media outlets, including CTV.

Hans Moor is a former president of Bike Ottawa and a current member of the Advocacy Working Group. For more details on the construction, you can visit Hans’ longer blog post.