Decision No. 279-R-1993
May 20, 1993
APPLICATION by the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton pursuant to section 202 and all other relevant sections of the Railway Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. R-3, for authority to construct two overhead bridges to carry the "highway", namely Walkley Road, across and over the tracks jointly owned by the Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Limited, at mileage 73.25 Alexandria Subdivision and mileage 0.40 Hawthorne Wye, and mileage 0.34 South Freight Shed Lead, respectively, in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, in the Province of Ontario.
File No. R 8050/307-S00.04
The Ministry of Transportation for the Province of Ontario constructed the Walkley Road/Highway 417 interchange in 1973 as part of its expressway construction program to connect Ottawa with Montréal. At present, there is no direct link between Walkley Road and the Highway 417 interchange. However, since 1973 it has been the intention of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton (hereinafter the applicant) to extend Walkley Road from Russell Road to the west limits of the Highway 417 interchange.
The interchange is presently accessed on the west by Russell Road and Ridge Road with Ridge Road providing the only connection to the Highway 417 interchange from the west. Ridge Road is a two-lane road with a double-track at-grade crossing maintained by the City of Ottawa.
The applicant has applied to the National Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) to construct two overhead bridges over the trackage of the Canadian National Railway Company (hereinafter CN) and Canadian Pacific Limited (hereinafter CP) to permit the connection of Walkley Road to the Highway 417 interchange. As the trackage is owned by both CN and CP, the railway companies have decided to respond to the application jointly.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
The project consists of extending Walkley Road to Highway 417 on a new alignment by means of a four-lane divided urban arterial road with a design speed of 80 km/h. This road would permit a direct link to the existing Highway 417/Walkley Road interchange from the Russell Road intersection. Presently, Walkley Road crosses two at-grade railway crossings, both of which are proposed to be eliminated with the provision of two overhead bridge structures. A diagram showing the existing roads and the proposal is attached as Appendix A.
The east structure is proposed to be constructed over the Hawthorne Wye and the CN Alexandria Subdivision. Construction of the east structure would enable the new Walkley Road extension to be carried over mileage 73.25 Alexandria Subdivision and mileage 0.11 Hawthorne Wye. This would permit the existing two-track at-grade crossing of Ridge Road (a circuitous two-lane road, which is the only access to Highway 417 from the existing Walkley Road) at mileage 0.20 Walkley Line and mileage 72.93 Alexandria Subdivision to be removed when the extension of Walkley Road has been opened.
It is proposed to construct a west structure over the South Freight Shed Lead which is to be relocated. This would enable the new Walkley Road extension to be carried over the South Freight Shed Lead track at mileage 0.34. The existing two-lane Walkley Road at-grade crossing at mileage 0.23 of the original South Freight Shed Lead track could then be removed. The South Freight Shed Lead is to be maintained to serve customers that require rail service.
The Sheffield Industrial Spur is now redundant. As part of the project, this track is proposed to be removed and the present at-grade crossing of Walkley Road at mileage 0.13 of this Spur closed. It is proposed that the Sheffield Industrial Spur would be removed under the terms of subsection 159(2) of the National Transportation Act, 1987, R.S.C., 1985, c. 28 (3rd Supp.).
POSITION OF CN AND CP
a) Necessity of the Project
CN and CP submit that existing traffic at any of the existing at-grade crossings to be eliminated is insufficient to justify the construction of even one grade separation. They contend that the information provided in support of the application is related to future traffic congestion of existing roads in the region resulting from current and future development in the area. In view of this, both railway companies conclude that the purpose of this project is to provide a new route to alleviate this future traffic congestion.
CN and CP state that rail traffic on the South Freight Shed Lead across the existing Walkley Road is presently one train per day increasing to two in the future, while rail traffic on the Sheffield Industrial Spur, which is to be removed as part of the project, across Walkley Road is presently one train per day. Rail traffic over the Ridge Road crossing is presently 14 trains per day and is expected to remain at that level in the foreseeable future. Rail traffic at the proposed east structure is presently 12 trains per day and is expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future.
CN and CP question the reliability of the existing total traffic volume for 1989 afternoon peak hours which described significant volumes of traffic travelling on Walkley Road between Sheffield Road and Highway 417 considering that this section of road has not been built.
In addition, both railway companies contend that the proposal involves construction of a road facility with higher capacity than exists today, and that the proposed road capacity is higher than is necessary to accommodate existing vehicular traffic.
CN and CP submit that nowhere in the application or supporting documents are the existing facilities alleged to be inadequate for present day traffic nor is the presence of the railway lines alleged to be responsible in any way for this project.
CN and CP argue that there is little or no benefit accruing to the railway companies because of the proposed project. Any benefit resulting from the elimination of the at-grade crossings and the associated maintenance costs at mileage 0.23 South Freight Shed Lead, mileage 0.21 Sheffield Industrial Spur, and mileage 0.20 Walkley Line/72.93 Alexandria Subdivision would be nominal and greatly out of proportion to the contribution requested from the railway companies. They argue that this nominal benefit would be offset by increased railway operating costs due to increased curve wear and removal of one of the accesses which would result from rearrangement of trackage agreed to by CN and CP to reduce project costs. CN and CP contend that these track changes are entirely for the benefit of the applicant and that the net result may well be an increase in total operating costs to the railway companies.
c) Cost Apportionment
CN and CP state that they derive no benefit from the proposed project, that construction of the proposed grade separations is not justified based on existing traffic and that the purpose of constructing the two overpasses is to provide a new route. The railway companies submit, therefore, that all costs should be apportioned to the applicant as set out by the Agency in its Guidelines on Apportionment of Costs of Grade Separations (hereinafter the Guidelines) for new routes.
CN and CP state that it is not clear to them why such long overhead bridges are required. The railway companies also state that the drawings would be acceptable as to type of construction and clearances over the railways, provided that none of the project costs are payable by the railway companies. As well, CN and CP state that they reserve the right to retract this acceptance and to require other less costly alternatives to be investigated by the applicant in the event that a contribution towards the cost of construction is required from them.
e) Track Ownership
CN and CP confirm that all tracks in the vicinity of the project are jointly owned by both railway companies.
f) Contaminants on Site
With respect to contaminants on site, CN and CP state that they are not responsible for any soil contamination on the project site. They also state that any remedial action that may be required because of the presence of these contaminants should be the responsibility of the applicant.
POSITION OF THE APPLICANT
a) Necessity of the Project
In support of its application, the applicant states that this project is required to relieve the congestion of existing roads in the region. The applicant adds that current and projected development of commercial and industrial lands adjacent to Walkley Road and the completed upgrading of Walkley Road from Bank Street to Russell Road make it desirable for this link to be completed.
The applicant also states that a completion of the Walkley Road extension would provide an improved level of service as this would enable complete use of reconstructed Walkley and Heron Roads and provide the final link in a continuous east-west arterial road joining Highways 416 and 417. The construction of the Walkley Road extension would also improve access to existing and developing commercial and industrial areas on Conroy, Hawthorne and Sheffield Roads.
A 1990 traffic study, along with figures reflecting proposed annual average daily traffic (hereinafter AADT), was submitted by the applicant. With the proposed four-lane Walkley Road extension to Highway 417 in place, the applicant estimates that traffic over the west structure would be 24,000 AADT in 1995 increasing to 28,000 AADT in 1999. The applicant estimates that traffic over the east structure would be 21,000 AADT in 1995 rising to 24,000 AADT in 1999. Traffic over each of the existing at-grade crossings on Walkley Road was determined by the applicant to be 6,000 AADT as of 1991.
The applicant submits that Ridge Road is presently experiencing capacity deficiencies and that without the Walkley Road/Highway 417 link, traffic on Ridge Road would be 17,000 AADT by 1995 and 20,000 AADT by 1999.
With respect to the need for the project, the applicant argues that the project is not primarily to accommodate the future needs of the area, but to alleviate existing congestion problems, numerous safety deficiencies including at-grade railway crossings, substandard horizontal alignment, poor pedestrian facilities and limited illumination. Also, the applicant submits that the four public at-grade railway crossings of five tracks cause further delays to already significant traffic volumes.
In response to the argument of CN and CP with respect to the new road having a higher capacity than exists today and a higher capacity than necessary to accommodate existing vehicular traffic, the applicant states that because the proposal involves the replacement of two adjacent two-lane facilities with a four-lane facility, the net capacity is the same.
In response to the statement of CN and CP that their presence does not create a need for the project, the applicant states that the Walkley Road extension would have been completed when the Highway 417/Walkley Road interchange was constructed had it not been for the presence of the railway lines and resulting cost implications. The applicant states that the need for the project to proceed at this time can be directly attributed to the existence of the railway tracks.
During the pleadings, the applicant also considered an alternative scheme in which the profile of the original proposal was modified to accommodate an at-grade crossing on the South Freight Shed Lead at the proposed alignment of Walkley Road, instead of the west structure, using the existing track alignment and elevation as shown on its Drawing No. 9869-015B dated April 1992.
On the advice of CN and CP that they would accept a track lift of up to one meter on the existing alignment of the South Freight Shed Lead where it crosses the proposed Walkley Road, the applicant stated that the at-grade crossing alternative, while not preferred, could accommodate its profile and road geometry requirements.
With respect to benefits, the applicant submits in its application, that as a result of the proposed grade separations, four existing at-grade railway crossings, including a double-track crossing, as well as the need for a fifth triple-track at-grade crossing would be eliminated or avoided.
c) Cost Estimates
The applicant estimates the total additional eligible costs of this project, due to the existence of the railway tracks, to be $12,714,515. The applicant included in these figures total utility relocation costs of $740,000, as well as 15 percent each for contingencies and engineering fees.
The total estimate was later revised by the applicant to $12,860,655. This is based on the following proposed shareable limits (as shown on Drawing Nos. 9869-019 and 9869-020 both dated December 1991):
- along the new Walkley Road alignment from station 15 + 275 (just west of Lancaster Road) to station 15 + 990;
- north along Lancaster Road to station 9 + 915; and
- north along Sheffield Road to station 9 + 946.
Due to the elevation of the proposed Walkley Road at the proposed location of the Sheffield Road and Walkley Road intersection, the applicant has proposed to construct a ramp that would connect the existing Sheffield Road to the extension of Walkley Road, thereby maintaining the connection between these two roads. The applicant also proposes to reconstruct some 200 meters along Lancaster Road as a result of the proposed new elevation of the Walkley Road and Lancaster Road intersection. The project would also require the eastward relocation of the South Freight Shed Lead and the removal of the Sheffield Industrial Spur. The applicant submits that all of these cost items are eligible project costs for cost apportionment.
d) Proposed Cost Apportionment
The applicant proposes that the cost of this project be apportioned 85 percent to the applicant and 15 percent to CN and CP jointly, in accordance with the Guidelines. The applicant submits that the railway companies would benefit from the project in that the two grade separations eliminate four existing at-grade rail crossings as well as the need for a fifth triple-track crossing.
In its application, the applicant states that it will own and maintain the roadway, Walkley Road and the two structures.
In response to the concerns of CN and CP with respect to the length of the structures, the applicant states that the lengths of the bridges, as shown on the drawings included in the original application, were dictated by several factors. These factors include the required horizontal track clearances and the requirement for the benching of the embankment slopes of the structures as dictated by the geotechnical investigation for the project.
f) Contaminants on Site
In response to the concerns of CN and CP regarding the presence of contaminants on site, the applicant confirms that contaminants were found on site and that it has not established nor implied the source of these contaminants.
The applicant also states that after meetings with representatives of the Ministry of the Environment for the Province of Ontario (hereinafter MOE), it was given permission to proceed with the Walkley Road extension project with those contaminants left in place.
AGENCY CONSIDERATIONS AND FINDINGS
The Agency, in the exercise of its authority, may determine all matters and things in respect of the proposal before it and may order what portion of the costs are to be borne by the parties.
Pursuant to section 204 of the Railway Act, the Agency has the power to assign costs in the way it determines appropriate for any project authorized under sections 201 and 202 of the Railway Act.
The Agency has reviewed the environmental impact statement filed by the applicant and the comments of its consultant with respect to site drainage, railway works and related mitigative measures contained in its letter dated March 2, 1992. These documents provide a comprehensive statement of the effects of the project on the environment and the mitigative measures proposed to minimize these effects. The Agency has also consulted with and reviewed the concerns of the National Capital Commission.
Further, the Agency reviewed the comments of MOE in its letter dated May 17, 1991. MOE raised the issue of the presence of contaminants in the east approach fill of the proposed east structure. However, it stated that it is satisfied that these contaminants can be left in place provided that the applicant undertakes a program to test the site groundwater on a regular basis.
Based on the above, the Agency is satisfied that the effects of constructing the proposed grade separations and related works will be insignificant or mitigated by the measures to be undertaken by the applicant.
Necessity of the Work
In reviewing the necessity of the project, the Agency considered several factors such as level of service, delay and highway-railway traffic cross-products.
The Agency is satisfied that construction of the Walkley Road extension will improve the level of service as this project would enable the complete use of the reconstructed Walkley and Heron Roads and provide the final link in a continuous east-west arterial road joining Highway 416 on the west to Highway 417 on the east. The Agency is also satisfied that the construction of the Walkley Road extension will improve access to existing and developing commercial and industrial areas on Conroy, Hawthorne and Sheffield Roads.
The Agency notes that Ridge Road is presently experiencing delays during the morning and evening peak periods due to the heavy traffic and the presence of the two-track at-grade crossing. The Agency is of the opinion that these traffic delays are expected to increase every year that this project is delayed and that the construction of the Walkley Road extension, the removal of through traffic on Ridge Road and the closure of the Ridge Road at-grade crossing would considerably improve service and reduce delays.
Based on level of service and delay, the Agency is satisfied that the project is warranted.
With respect to traffic counts, the Agency notes that with the proposed four-lane Walkley Road extension to Highway 417 in place, traffic over the proposed west structure is projected to be 24,000 AADT in 1995, increasing to 28,000 AADT by 1999, while traffic over the proposed east structure is estimated to be 21,000 AADT in 1995, rising to 24,000 AADT in 1999. Traffic over the existing at-grade crossings on Walkley Road was 6,000 AADT as of 1991. Recognizing the length of time required to construct these structures, the Agency is of the opinion that, in this case, the traffic counts for 1995 can be considered by the Agency in its determination for present day needs.
The Agency also notes that rail traffic on the South Freight Shed Lead across the existing Walkley Road is presently one train per day, increasing to two in the future, while rail traffic at the proposed east structure is presently 12 trains per day and is expected to remain unchanged. Rail traffic over the Ridge Road crossing is expected to remain at 14 trains per day in the foreseeable future.
The Agency agrees with the applicant that Ridge Road is presently experiencing capacity deficiencies and notes that traffic on this road is expected to increase to 17,000 AADT by 1995 and to 20,000 AADT by 1999 without the Walkley Road link in place. The Agency is of the opinion that substantially all of this traffic will be diverted to the Walkley Road extension.
Based on the above traffic, the cross-product at Ridge Road is expected to be in the order of 238,000 by 1995 if this project is not carried out. Given that the construction of the proposed east structure would permit the closure of the Ridge Road at-grade crossing, the Agency is of the opinion that the need for a grade separation at the east structure is justified.
Given the above traffic, the proposed west structure is expected to have a maximum cross-product of only 48,000 by 1995. Therefore, the Agency is of the opinion that the west structure is not required on the basis of cross-product warrants. However, the applicant has also argued that the west structure is required in order to provide a suitable profile for the west approach to the east structure which will provide acceptable geometric design (i.e., adequate decision sight distance when approaching the Sheffield and Walkley Road intersection from Highway 417) and still meet the vertical rail clearances required over the South Freight Shed Lead.
In support of its argument that the west structure is required, the applicant prepared a profile for an at-grade crossing alternative for the South Freight Shed Lead along with the east structure, based on the existing track alignment and elevation as shown on Drawing No. 9869-015B dated April 1992. The applicant stated that while this alternative provided acceptable grades and minimum stopping distances, the resulting crest of the profile at the Sheffield and Walkley Road intersection was too steep to permit the decision sight distance required by the road design of the applicant. On the basis of this analysis, the applicant reiterated its position that two grade separations are required for this project.
The Agency notes that CN and CP, in their submission of August 12, 1992, stated that they could permit a track lift of up to one meter on the existing alignment of the South Freight Shed Lead where it crosses the proposed Walkley Road. The Agency has reviewed this information and the arguments of the applicant and is satisfied that the profile and the road geometry requirements of the applicant can be met without the need for a west structure, by relocating the existing Walkley Road/South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing to the newly proposed alignment of Walkley Road and incorporating a track lift of up to one meter on the existing alignment of the South Freight Shed Lead.
The Agency has reviewed the comments of CN and CP and those of the applicant with respect to the location of the switch as shown on Drawing No. 9869-021 and notes the position of the applicant that the parties have agreed to construct the relocated spur as shown on this drawing.
Basic Grade Separation
The Agency does not consider the west structure to be necessary to permit good geometric design for both the proposed profile of Walkley Road and the intersection of Sheffield and Walkley Roads, as acceptable results can be achieved with an at-grade crossing in lieu of the proposed west structure. The Agency is therefore of the view that the basic grade separation should consist of only the east structure and related project works. Accordingly, the Agency has not included the west structure in the basic grade separation.
In light of the above, the Agency has reviewed the shareable limits of the project as proposed by the applicant and has determined that the west limit of the project should be modified from 15 + 275 (west of Lancaster Road) to 15 + 350 (east of Lancaster Road) to reflect a road profile which would cross the existing South Freight Shed Lead at grade. Accordingly, the Agency has determined that the work proposed on Lancaster Road and at the intersection of the proposed Walkley Road extension and Lancaster Road is outside the shareable limits of the project. The Agency is satisfied with the east limit of the project as 15 + 990. The Agency is also satisfied with the limits proposed by the applicant for the Sheffield Road ramp, namely from the proposed extension of Walkley Road north to 9 + 546.
The Agency notes that it is proposed to extend Walkley Road to Highway 417 by means of a four-lane divided urban arterial road with a design speed of 80 km/h. Given that the present Walkley Road west of Russell Road and the existing Highway 417 access road where the realigned Walkley Road will tie in are both four lanes, the Agency considers the construction of a four-lane road reasonable under the circumstances. The Agency is also satisfied, on the basis of traffic counts and the demand for a direct link from Walkley Road to Highway 417, that a four-lane road is required for present day needs. The Agency is of the opinion that the earthworks that would be required if the road profile for the South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing scenario was used is part of the cost of the basic grade separation. Roadwork and surface drainage shall not, however, be considered as part of the basic grade separation.
Due to the presence of a sanitary sewer junction chamber at the foot of existing Sheffield Road and the elevation of the proposed Walkley Road, at the east structure, the construction of a ramp on a new alignment will be required to maintain the connection between the existing Sheffield Road and Walkley Road. The Agency is of the opinion that the requirement to construct this ramp has been brought about as a result of the requirement for a grade separation across the railway tracks. The Agency has therefore determined that the cost of the earthworks associated with the construction of the Sheffield Road ramp shall be considered part of the basic grade separation, but the related drainage and roadworks shall not.
As the location of the above junction chamber does not permit the direct connection of the existing Sheffield Road to the new alignment of Walkley Road, the Agency is of the opinion that the roadwork on the Sheffield Access Road, including the cul-de-sac and connection to the ramp, are not eligible because the construction of these items would still be required if no railway track were present.
With respect to the claim of CN and CP that the length of the east structure is excessive, the Agency notes the arguments of the applicant that due to poor soil conditions, embankment benches had to be incorporated into the design of both embankments at the east structure thereby increasing its length. The soil consultant retained by the applicant reviewed the embankment widths and determined that it was not possible to reduce the overall length of this structure. The Agency is satisfied with this explanation of the requirement for additional structure length and, therefore, considers the entire length of the east structure to be eligible. Therefore, the Agency has determined the basic grade separation to be an overhead structure which will accommodate four lanes and span two tracks.
Walkley Road west of Russell Road presently has two sidewalks while the portion of Walkley Road east of Russell Road has no sidewalks. The applicant has not proposed the construction of sidewalks along the proposed re-alignment of Walkley Road but only on the overhead structures. As there will not be sidewalks on the approaches to the overhead structures, the Agency does not consider that sidewalks on the overhead structure are required for present day needs. The Agency does, however, consider the requirement for pier protection on both sides of the tracks at the east structure to be part of the basic grade separation as these pier protections are necessary as recommended by the American Railroad Engineering Association.
The Agency notes that certain track changes will be required to carry out the construction of the proposed extension of Walkley Road. The project will require the removal of the Sheffield Industrial Spur track and its at-grade crossing. The Agency considers this track work to be part of the basic grade separation and, therefore, its costs to be shareable.
The project will also require the relocation of the South Freight Shed Lead so as to pass under the proposed west structure. As the Agency has determined that the west structure is unnecessary, the Agency also considers this track relocation unnecessary and, therefore, ineligible. The Agency does, however, realize that in determining an acceptable road profile for the basic grade separation that permits the replacement of the proposed west structure with a crossing at grade, a track lift and relocation of the South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing would have to be carried out. Therefore, the Agency considers that an amount equal to the cost of carrying out the above track lift and crossing relocation is eligible and should be considered part of the basic grade separation. Any track work costs in excess of this amount for work done on the South Freight Shed Lead shall be the responsibility of the applicant.
The Agency has reviewed the proposal in respect of the gabion retaining wall and is satisfied with the design and considers a portion of the cost of this item to be shareable. The Agency has determined that the eligible portion of this gabion wall is the portion that would still be required if the road profile for the South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing scenario was used.
The Agency has reviewed the costs for relocating utilities and considers a portion of these costs to be shareable. The Agency has determined that the eligible portion of the utilities relocation costs is that portion that would still be required if the road profile for the South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing scenario was used.
With respect to the additional property required to contain the side slopes of the proposed Walkley Road, the Agency has determined that this cost item is also shareable. The Agency is of the view that the eligible portion of this item is the portion that would continue to be required if the profile for the South Freight Shed Lead at-grade crossing scenario was used instead of the profile proposed for the west structure. This cost item should also reflect the fact that excess property to be released by the project on the north side of the proposed Walkley Road extension could increase under the at-grade scenario.
With respect to the closing of Ridge Road, the Agency is of the view that only the cost of removing the Ridge Road crossing surface and the cost of restoring the railway right-of-way at the crossing, including ditches and fences, are eligible. Any costs for asphalt removal and landscaping for work carried out on the approaches to this at-grade crossing shall be borne by the applicant.
Proposed Cost Apportionment
The applicant proposes that the cost of this project be apportioned 85 percent to the applicant and 15 percent to CN and CP jointly, on the basis that the project would permit the closure of three public at-grade crossings, eliminate through traffic over a private spur crossing and avoid the requirement for a fifth level crossing where Walkley Road would cross the CN Alexandria Subdivision and the Hawthorne Wye.
In their submissions, CN and CP have maintained that the extension of Walkley Road constitutes a new route with excessive capacity which cannot be justified. As such, they contend that the cost of this project should be borne entirely by the applicant.
The Agency does not consider this project as a proposal to construct a new route as the above basic grade separation is required to eliminate the established two-track crossing at grade at Ridge Road and is therefore in accordance with paragraph 3a) of the Guidelines. Moreover, the unopened road allowance for Walkley Road presently extends across the Alexandria Subdivision to Highway 417. The Agency is also of the opinion that this project has been proposed primarily for reasons of highway development. Accordingly, the cost of construction shall be apportioned 85 percent to the applicant and 15 percent to CN and CP for the east structure, including the other items determined by the Agency to form part of the basic grade separation.
With respect to future maintenance, the Agency notes that the applicant has agreed to maintain both overhead bridge structures.
An order to this effect will be issued.