While many in Ottawa are fixated on the failed pedestrian bridge project over the Airport Parkway, they tend to forget about the parkways other serious issues, such as it being one lane for much of its length, the lack of highway access, and the roads use as a commuter thoroughfare.
The Airport Parkway, as its name might suggest, was intended to be used to access the Ottawa International Airport. And while there are other issues with layout of the road (which I will get to), the main problem is congestion during rush hour. While this might not seem like something you would find on a road to and from an airport, the Airport Parkway has taken on the role of a commuter access road. Due to it’s quick and convenient access to the downtown from the suburbs, Alta Vista and Hunt Club residents have taken up using it as their personal commuter road. With this not being it’s intended use, the Airport Parkway is incapable of handling this commuter traffic, nor should it be expected to. As such, the best way to keep the Airport Parkway for use as a means of quickly accessing the Ottawa International Airport is to change the points of access. By removing the North-bound on-ramp and South-bound off-ramp at Hunt Club the attractiveness of using the Airport Parkway as a means of easily getting out of the city centre will quickly diminish. While one could possibly remove similar ramps at Hogs Back, Heron, and Riverside, those roads feed onto and off a much wider section of the Parkway, and thus have a much smaller impact on congestion.
While the increased traffic due to it’s use as a commuter road causes congestion issues, the Airport Parkway is still much too narrow. With only one lane in either direction from Hogs Back all the way to the airport, even the slightest issue can have serious consequences on traffic flow. By widening the Airport Parkway (something which the existing rail crossing hints to having always been part of the plan) the city can make it clear that they take proper access to our airport seriously. Having finished new airport terminal the city should focus on replacing the many narrow bridges along the Airport Parkway.
With congestion and flow issues along the parkway addresses the only remaining concern is the Parkways lack of direct access to a highway. While Ottawa does only have one highway, the Airport Parkway already leads right to it. Unfortunately, there are 7 traffic lights, a neighbourhood with a highschool, and retail stores between the airport and the Queensway. The unceremonious way it forces drivers into a cramped residential setting and pasts a shlew of traffic lights is something which is in need of immediate correction.
With the Ottawa International Airport as the 2010 recipient of the Airport Service Quality contest for its size internationally, second place overall in North America, and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce company of the year award, proper access to our international airport is way past due.