Lees Station Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik
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Transit between Hurdman and Lees Station to close in December

OC Transpo has announced that the lower level of Lees Station will be closed, and transit between Hurdman and Lees Stations will be halted due to light rail transit (LRT) construction. The closures will start on Dec. 20, and could affect the daily commute of hundreds of students.

The closure was originally scheduled for April 2016, when the school year would be coming to a close, but substantial construction work forced an early closure in order to complete the construction on time.

According to Daniel Spence, Sustainable Transportation Manager for the University of Ottawa, the university meets with the City of Ottawa and the contractors monthly to discuss progress and to raise any issues. It was during one of these recent meetings within the last month that the university was informed that the closure of Lees Station would come sooner than expected.

“We expressed concern that it was going to cut off a lot of students from being able to access Lees quickly and relied on the Transitway to do that,” said Spence. “(The City) hustled to come up with an alternative.”

A stop and shelter near Minto Sports Complex at Templeton Street intersection will be built. Spence said the route will continue towards Lees Campus, where several stops will be added on the campus, to “drop people off pretty much right outside the front door.”

The 85 will also stop at Laurier Station, continue down King Edward via Laurier Avenue and bypass Campus Station. Before 10 a.m., the 85 will run approximately every 6 to 8 minutes and every 10 to 15 afterwards.

Despite the talk of plans for alternate routes, some students using Lees Station as their point of transportation to the university were blindsided by the closure

“I had no idea they were closing it down. There’s been no kind of signs giving awareness of it,” said Morgan McCullough, a fourth-year history and political science student who lives in an apartment building on Lees Avenue.

“It’s going to be a huge hassle for the students. Everybody comes along this route. This is a huge transit area for most students, right? Either going out of the University of Ottawa or to it,” he said.

Fourth-year public administration student, Rachel Nauta, had similar concerns.

“It’s a big inconvenience not only just because the buses aren’t running, but you can’t walk along the Transitway either, so for students that choose to walk and not take a bus it’s still inconvenient,” said Nauta.

“The 85 is not going to come as often as any other bus that comes on the Transitway. You have so many choices now,” she said.

A number of bus routes will be affected, and as many as 18 slowed down, including the 95, which is highly used by U of O students.

Spence is assured that the City of Ottawa will continue to work closely with the university should more service adjustments be required to better accommodate students.

“They’ve been very cooperative. The turn around on this route 85 thing was very quick by municipal standards. We raised it at one meeting and then within a week or two they had come up with something to suggest,” said Spence.

According to the LRT Confederation Line website, which shows detailed timeline estimates for each station, construction at Lees Station should be completed by Summer 2017.

The LRT system is set to be finished on May 25, 2018.