Monday, November 16, 2009

Bank Street Phase III, Part 5: Surfaces

[This post is part of a series on Bank Street's new look. See the introduction and part I here.]

Last time, I shared some photos of the benches on Bank Street. Incidentally, they've removed the new benches South of Somerset, too. I think they were just doing a dry fit before removing them for the Winter.

Today it's surfaces. Lots of the more interesting aspects of the Bank Street redesign is the new, broader sidewalks and the various pieces of street furniture on them, but the surfaces that stretch between the sidewalks--i.e. the roads and crosswalks--have enough going on to merit their own post.

Here's a photo looking South down Bank at Lisgar from July 2007 on the Phase II portion of Bank Street, from Laurier to Somerset, in case you've forgotten how lumpy and bumpy Bank Street used to be. I believe they were drilling some core samples to get an idea of exactly what's underneath Bank Street in preparation for the following year's digging up of the century-old infrastructure. At the right is a newspaper box for Transcontinental Media's short-lived downtown weekly paper, the Ottawa City Journal:

After the underground work was complete, they paved a layer of asphalt in July to contain things. Here are some of the paving machines at Gilmour in front of the Rogers Plus store, at the end of a block-long carpet of asphalt. It doesn't go all the way to the curbs, because there was still more finishing to do on them.

South of McLeod, partial access to Bank Street was maintained so that people could get into and out of the mid-block parking lots on Bank. In late June, this alley of asphalt was laid to give drivers something more reasonable to drive on. The paving workers were very precise, following the string guide line to the inch:

In the final preparations for opening of the block, a pair of layers of asphalt were laid, stretching from curb to curb. This was taken in Phase II (looking North at Cooper) on November 14, 2008, with two more weeks of preparations before the street reopened.

By contrast, the second layer of asphalt went on this year's segment at the end of September, as seen here looking North up Bank from Gladstone. They've refined their techniques and were able, and by November 14 this year, Bank Street was already back open!

It seems more often than not that they pave asphalt right on or before a rainy day. You can see the water beading up on the surface of the asphalt. These bags of calcium chloride flakes were stacked outside Herb & Spice at Bank and Lewis. When applied, it looks like someone dropped piles of styrofoam pellets over the dusty gravel, apparently to control dust.

Once the second layer of asphalt was paved, the street looked nearly ready to go. Since the streets were still closed to cars, they became a de facto pedestrian space. These folks animated the street with a street hockey game between Gilmour and MacLaren streets, using construction pylons as goalposts. Others used the closed (or open, depending on how you look at it) road to practise their skateboarding tricks.

Before the street could be re-opened, these asphalt berms had to be installed along the edges of the streets to smooth out the lip on the edge of the sidewalks. I'm not entirely sure what the lips are for, as they come and go. For example, across the street in this photo, in front of the Staples store at Bank and Waverley, you notice that the berm (and the lip it covers) stops at the lamppost, and the sidewalk continues with no lip. I suspect the lip is drainage-related. (Photo taken last week)

Next to come are the crosswalk markings. Guide lines were spray-painted on the crossing of Lewis so that the stop line and crosswalk lines could be drawn precisely.

The following day, the lines were painted. Because the closed roads prevent cars driving over them, these lines at MacLaren were still shiny when I photographed them on Thursday night:

Most of the above describes the work done on Phase III, the section under construction this year. Last year, the majority of this same work was on Phase II, between Laurier and Somerset. Finishing touches for Phase II were done this year, and similar finishing touches will be done on Phase III next year.

In this photo, taken in mid-August 2009, they've dug up one of the manhole covers at Bank and Somerset (the first photo in this post shows this being done at Bank and Cooper), and applied a temporary cold patch around it. The four holes, which were frightening to cycle over, allowed drainage and a leverage point to re-extract the manhole cover more easily. They'll need to raise it up with a spacer when they pave the final layer of asphalt. This also explains the height discrepency at the curb requiring the temporary berm--You can see the berm that was installed last year coming down off the lip at the edge of the curb.

About a week after they dug up the manholes, the final layer of asphalt had been laid (although the ones at the intersection of Bank and Somerset would remain for a number of weeks). Here's a shot looking South at Lisgar again--much nicer than in the photo above from two years ago! The crosswalks have been painted, and marks made for the yellow centre line to be painted.

On the cross-streets (in this case, Lisgar again), they needed to scrape off some of the old asphalt to give a straight cut for the asphalt to cover over smoothly. If you click the photo to zoom in, you can see the four holes around the manhole cover. The old crosswalk paint will simply be paved over.

The final asphalt makes for a smooth transition on the cross streets. In this case, Nepean Street.

In mid-September, these paint marks outlined the location of crosswalks. You'll note that they line up well with the border of the concrete sidewalk.

The lines guide a slice through the asphalt and crosswalk pavers are installed over a bed of sand:

The precast paver crosswalks help to define the crosswalk as a pedestrian zone and continuation of the sidewalk. Looks pretty good, if you ask me.

Tune in in a couple days for my Part 6: Bike Racks (my favourite).

Note also the upcoming CCCA meeting on Tuesday night, 7pm in the Honeywell Room at City Hall.


  1. I noticed on Bank Street today that the new road finishes do not match the side streets. For eg, McLaren at Bank has a recessed parking bay with a shallow curb line separating it from the street surface. This shallow curb directs water to catch basins and allows the street to drain away from the sidewalk. However, the finish pavement for Bank Street cuts off the last few feet of each shallow curb and leaves it abandonned in nowheresville. Looks like a patch job.
    -eric Darwin

  2. Yes, as with last year's section North of Somerset, the section South of Somerset won't get its final layer of asphalt until next year.

  3. It's not the asphalt ... its the cut off curb line that separates the parking inset from the street. The new bit of Bank does not replace the curb line.