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(Posted 7:30 a.m., June 13)
Community groups form common front against interprovincial bridge

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

It took three years, but east end community groups are finally on the same page when it comes to opposing a new interprovincial bridge.

Close to 300 people from a variety of community groups gathered outside the Shenkman Arts Centre on Tuesday night to say in one loud voice, "No bridge!"

In the past, community groups opposed to a bridge at Kettle Island and the Aviation Parkway took the position that a bridge should be built anywhere else but Kettle Island, while the community groups opposed to a bridge in Orléans were against building a bridge in the Greenbelt.

Now all the groups have made it clear, they are opposed to a bridge at any of the locations - period.

Those sentiments were echoed by Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely who took his turns at the megaphone to repeat the same words, "No bridge!"

"We're investing $220 million to fix the Split and widen the Queensway and a new bridge, no matter where its built, will take up all that extra capacity," said McNeely.

The three biggest arguments against a bridge are cost, the bridge will likely cost close to $1 billion by the time it's built; conflicting truck traffic data that indicates an interprovincial bridge in the east end would only remove half of the truck traffic from downtown; and commuter traffic projections that indicate bridge users will predominantly be from Gatineau.

"Why are we building a bridge for the people in Quebec using our tax dollars. That money should stay here to solve our own problems," said Convent Glen resident Al Dzikowski.

While the community groups were demonstrating outside the Shenkman Arts Centre, the consultants charged with coming up with a preferred location for a bridge were fielding hundreds of questions from concerned residents who weren't afraid to offer their opinions.

One resident in particular said the bridge had nothing to do with getting trucks out of the downtown, and everything to do with developers in Gatineau wanting to get rich.

Another resident wanted to know if the truck traffic projections took into account the completion of Hwy. 50 which will link Gatineau and Montreal starting next year. The answer was they hadn't. Nor have they done an air quality study, or a noise pollution study. Both reports will be done in the coming months, said deputy project manager Christopher Gordon.

The Interprovincial Crossings Study is entering a critical stage. Once the remaining studies are completed, including an updated traffic report, a 22-member panel of experts will meet in September to determine where a bridge should be built. The final recommendation is expected to be made public in October or November. Then it's in the politicians hands.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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