Housing purchase kicks off design effort for Abbott and Lombard Street intersection

Abbott and Lombard Streets intersection
Next year the town is planning to rejuvenate the Abbott and Lombard Streets intersection shown above. The town recently purchased the two-storey brick home on the corner to allow for road work and a town entrance upgrade in this area. The hope is to allow the view of the Rideau Canal behind the home to be seen. Photo credit: Stacey Roy.
Posted on: April 11, 2019

Smiths Falls drivers will be seeing improvements at the Abbott and Lombard Street intersection next year following the town’s successful purchase of a Lombard Street residential property.

Town staff will be working on design plans for the busy town intersection all this year following the successful purchase of the brick home at 54 Lombard Street. Their hope is to begin construction sometime in the Fall of 2020.

“We want to make that intersection the best it can be”, said Troy Dunlop, director of public works and utilities.

This acquisition allows the town to address two long-term needs: traffic back-ups on Abbott Street and beautification of that entry into town. Dunlop said some of the work under consideration includes sidewalk improvements on the east side. Other discussion points to be considered are a possible right turn lane once you cross the swing bridge on Abbott Street going toward Hwy 15. Dunlop said the current road allowance provides for 12 meters of right of way when today’s standards typically call for 20 meters.

“We do need land on both sides”, Dunlop said.

He noted the project itself is mainly above ground work, so it shouldn’t be a lengthy ordeal for local drivers next fall. The housing purchase was an unplanned opportunity that town staff seized. The purchase price of the house is not public. The town’s quick action to purchase is an example of how visioning documents can work for the community.

“You’ve got to have a plan if you want to get to where you want to go”, Dunlop said.

In 2013, the town completed several visioning documents under the banner Vision 20/20. One of those was the Downtown Revitalization and Waterfront Integration Master Plan completed by EDA in February 2013. That plan proposed capitalizing on the Rideau Canal view at the intersection of Abbott and Lombard Streets by removing the house at 54 Lombard Street, building a small half wall of stone that would read “Welcome to Smiths Falls’ and installing inlaid stone work into the pavement at the intersection itself.

“These features convey the landscape design theme making residents and visitors aware of the unique character of the place”, read EDA’s 2013 report, page 39.

This design is not necessarily what the town will move forward with next year, but will serve as a jumping off point for design discussions taking place this year. Dunlop confirmed the environmental assessment was completed for this project in 2018.

Article by Stacey Roy