Main Street Transformation and Transformers Celebrated

By John Dance

Highlighting the recent Main Event festivities was the official reopening of Main Street as a completely rebuilt “complete street” and the honouring of the many who made it happen.
The “new” Main features wide sidewalks, protected cycle lanes, extensive tree planting, new street lighting and amenities, and a new public artwork by Stuart Kinmond, entitled Main2.

Photo: Jim Lamont

The transformed street is a result of decades of traffic calming efforts, OOE’s community design plan, two years of working group discussion and almost three years of construction.
The actual trigger for Main reconstruction was the unavoidable need to dig up the entire street to replace the century-old deteriorated water main and sewer lines. Given the roadway had to be rebuilt anyway, the City took the opportunity to explore options for making the street work better.

“The easy way would have been to rebuild Main in the same community-dividing, dangerous, unhealthy and ugly form it had,” noted Phyllis Odenbach Sutton, OOECA president.

“Instead, we now have a street that embraces the community and allows motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and businesses to all safely and enjoyably use the road and new sidewalks,” she said.

“Councillor David Chernushenko deserves great credit,” she noted as she presented him with a neck pendant holding a jagged, corroded piece of the antiquated excavated watermain which triggered the transformation.

And she praised Mayor Jim Watson and transportation committee chair Keith Egli for their strong support of the controversial project. “It took courage and these politicians demonstrated it.”

Project manager Josée Vallée – who led the effort over the five years – drew particular commendation. ”It is impossible to overstate her role: she was always available, responsive, positive, clear, creative; and she shared information and consulted,” noted Phyllis.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Community Association and all residents of Old Ottawa East for their patience and cooperation during construction,” Ms Vallée responded. “While we (the construction team) enjoy construction (on most days anyway), it is quite taxing for residents to live in a construction zone with dust, noise, vibration and major traffic disruption for 2.5 years. You guys have been troopers, believed in us and made my job easier!”

“Our merchants and residents put up with disruption for more than two years - we all endured noise, dust, lost trees and portions of front yards, traffic detours, and busy side streets,” Phylllis said in thanking them.

Phyllis also thanked community association members, business and church representatives who participated in 20 "working group" meetings with the City on issues related to the reconstruction.

And various city staff, contractors and consultants like Kornel Mucsi, Robin Bennett, Ron Clarke and Shaun Fraser were thanked for their major contributions. The community association will be planting a tree to honour them.