The City of Ottawa has received environmental assessment approval from the Canadian government for its $2.1bn Ottawa Light Rail Transit (OLRT) project.

Currently the OLRT project is in the request-for-proposals (RFP) phase of the procurement process.

In October 2011, the city shortlisted three consortia, Ottawa Transit Partners, Rideau Transit Group and Rideau Transit Partners, to submit proposals to design, build, finance and maintain the project.

Construction of the OLRT, a 12.5km light rail line through the city, is scheduled to start in early 2013.

The line will run from Tunney’s Pasture Station to Blair Station, including a 2.4km downtown tunnel from Brickhill Street to south of Laurier Avenue. The rest of the LRT alignment will follow the city’s existing bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor called the Transitway.

"Construction of the OLRT, a 12.5km light rail line through the city, is scheduled to start in early 2013."

Along the 12.5km route, 13 new stations have been are proposed, three of which would be located in the underground downtown core portion.

The project also includes the conversion of existing Transitway segments and stations, as well as the construction and operation of new at-grade, elevated and underground LRT segments and stations.

Construction of the underground infrastructure will be carried out by methods such as cut and cover, sequential excavation techniques and the use of a tunnel boring machine.

Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson said: "The federal government’s endorsement of our approach is a critical step forward for us as we move towards finishing the RFP and selecting the team that will build this project."

The OLRT project is expected to generate about $3.2bn in economic activity and 20,000 person-years of employment during the construction phase.

Construction of the project is expected to be finished by the end of 2017 and, after completion, it is will transport 10,000 people an hour in each direction during the morning rush hour, saving transit riders approximately 15 minutes on their daily commute.

Picture: The 12.5km Ottawa light rail project will run from Tunney’s Pasture Station to Blair Station (artist’s impression of Blair Station pictured). Image: Ottawa Light Rail.