Mayor Jim Watson asked Via Rail officials to come to Ottawa and answer questions from councillors and reporters about the malfunctioning rail signals in Barrhaven. It appears Via has agreed to come next week.
As you know, the City of Ottawa has been in discussions with VIA Rail about the ongoing rail signal issues in Barrhaven.
In recent weeks, VIA Rail has taken a number of measures to improve safety in the area.
Yesterday, VIA announced that it will undertake a high level of activity including maintenance, repairs and testing over the next two weeks at the following crossings in the Barrhaven area: Woodroffe Avenue, the Southwest Transitway where it crosses Woodroffe, Fallowfield Road, Greenbank Road, Jockvale Road and Strandherd Road.
We support the interim steps VIA has taken to ensure the safety of our residents at railway crossings in the City of Ottawa. However, our top priority remains ensuring that VIA Rail fixes its rail signals, as soon as possible.
I have expressed the view that our City Council, but more importantly our residents, deserve a complete update about the work that has been undertaken by VIA Rail to come up with a permanent solution to these issues.
Last week, I formally requested that VIA Rail representatives hold a public technical briefing for Councillors and media at Ottawa City Hall as soon as possible. I offered City of Ottawa space and resources to VIA Rail for such a session.
Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Steve Del Bosco, interim President and CEO of VIA Rail, informed my office that VIA Rail officials are planning to hold such a public technical briefing/panel next week in Ottawa. Once the final details are provided to us, I will ask that City staff keep you informed about the time and location of the briefing.
Our residents need to regain confidence in these crossings, and I believe that next week’s technical briefing/panel will help us begin to move in that direction. Once again, I wish to extend to VIA Rail any assistance they require to hold this public technical briefing in Ottawa.
It is my intention to continue to work with our residents, members of Council, Via Rail and other elected officials to restore public confidence in the affected railway crossings.
Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.