We have a bit of a love-hate relationship with our interprovincial bridges in the National Capital Region.
If you live on the Quebec side, the five bridges crossing the Ottawa River give you access to your beige government job cubicle, better shopping options, and the entire province of Ontario. If you live on the Ontario side, crossing the river is the quickest way to drink booze legally at 18, gamble at the casino and get the French immersion experience you skipped in high school. Also, if you’re me, you’ll find imported French products in IGA supermarkets, yay!
Traffic is predictable and very one-sided—from the Quebec side into downtown Ottawa in the morning and from downtown Ottawa back to Quebec at the end of the workday. But as you can expect, rush hour can be brutal, especially with frequent lane reductions and major repair work typically scheduled midweek or whenever it’s most inconvenient.
Five bridges connect Ottawa and Gatineau. The Alexandra Bridge, the “Interprovincial Bridge,” is probably the most famous one. It connects Sussex Drive in Ottawa and Des Allumettières Boulevard in Gatineau or if you’re a tourist, the Byward Market in Ottawa and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.
Approximately 22,000 vehicles cross the Alexandra Bridge per day. This amounts to 13% of the vehicle traffic on the interprovincial bridges in the National Capital Region.
Well, until the pandemic, anyway. Government workers were sent home months ago and traffic is light these days.
And for now, there is traffic. In the spring, Quebec decided to “limit non-essential movements” between Ontario and Quebec. Police set up checkpoints. They were eventually lifted late May but apparently, they could now “resume anytime.”
Even though I understand the rationale behind border closures given the current situation, they still make me very uneasy. We still can’t travel anywhere we want in Canada as Canadians—the four Atlantic provinces created a “bubble,” Nunavut is off-limits, etc. As for the national border, Canada is still closed to tourists, especially to Americans travellers. There’s also a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place for anyone entering the country (i.e. Canadian citizens).
I feel trapped.
I can’t stand being trapped.
So last weekend, the three of us crossed Alexandra Bridge between Ontario and Quebec, one of these “let’s do it while we can” moments.
Just enjoying a bit of freedom.
Ottawa is boring these days but it’s still a pretty place.