Suburban Bureau

Notice of Motion to Widen Red Hill, Linc to Six Lanes

The motion completely neglects to acknowledge that the very act of widening the highways will by itself generate additional traffic, eliminating the congestion-reducing benefits of the widening.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 02, 2015

Ward 9 Councillor Doug Conley is bringing a notice of motion to today's Public Works Committee meeting to ask staff to report on the feasibility and cost to widen the Red Hill Valley Parkway and Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway from four lanes to six lanes.

Red Hill Valley Parkway (RTH file photo)
Red Hill Valley Parkway (RTH file photo)

Because the City's Council/Committee meeting website is an unusable quagmire, we can't link directly to the report. However, you can download it by scrolling down to item 10.1, clicking on it to pull up a temporary link to the report on the right pane of the web page, and then clicking the tiny PDF icon next to the text "** Expansion of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and th - EDRMS_n584779_v1_NOM_(Conley)_Highway_Expansion.pdf" (but not the text itself because that would be too usable).

Councillor Conley, who claims to be a fiscal conservative and said last year he would have voted against the Cannon Street Cycle Track, is apparently willing to spend several orders of magnitude more money as long as it goes to increasing vehicle lane capacity.

The motion cites increased residential and commercial development across the upper city and rush-hour traffic congestion, but couches the request in the language of "business attraction and industrial park development", calling the RVHP/Linc "vital transportation corridors for both people and goods movement".

It skips over the fact that the growth in automobile-dependent suburban sprawl creating the traffic congestion was made possible by the construction of the Linc/RHVP in the first place.

Perhaps more important, it completely neglects to acknowledge that the very act of widening the highways will by itself generate additional traffic, eliminating the congestion-reducing benefits of the widening.

This is due to the well-understood phenomenon of induced demand, proven over decades of traffic studies in North America and around the world.

Induced demand is simply the fundamental economic law of demand applied to transportation: when you increase vehicle lane capacity, more people drive longer distances more frequently.

Frankly, no one who has the power to make capital spending decisions about our transportation system should be allowed anywhere near a committee meeting without a clear understanding of how induced demand shapes the growth of traffic in response to road widening.

Expanding the RHVP/Linc to six lanes is guaranteed to be a colossal waste of money, even if the City succeeds in getting the Province to "cost share" the capital obligation as the motion resolves to attempt.

We can't afford to maintain the road infrastructure we already have, in significant part because a large - and growing - proportion of it is surrounded by low-density suburban developments that do not generate enough property tax revenue to pay for themselves.

It is lunacy to expand that unfunded road infrastructure obligation further, especially in such a way that it will further increase the growth of financially unsustainable sprawl developments that will drive the city further into the hole!

Here is the text of the notice of motion:

NOTICE OF MOTION

Public Works Committee

Date: November 2, 2015

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR D. CONLEY

EXPANSION OF RED HILL VALLEY PARKWAY AND THE LINCOLN M. ALEXANDER PARKWAY

WHEREAS, the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and the Red Hill Valley Parkway are vital transportation corridors for both people and goods movement; and,

WHEREAS, residential and business construction has increased significantly in the upper city, including Stoney Creek, Ancaster and Glanbrook and will continue to increase; and,

WHEREAS, both of these highways are reaching, and at times exceeding, peak rush hour capacity; and,

WHEREAS, there is an increased city-wide focus on business attraction and industrial park development and expansion and transportation linkages will be critical to sustain this growth; and,

WHEREAS, the initial construction of both of these highways allowed for expansion opportunities in the future;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

(a) That staff report to the Public Works Committee on the total costs, and feasibility, to expand both highways from the current four lanes to six lanes

(b) That the report consider the highway expansion as part of the City’s overall Master Transportation Plan

(c) That, with the support of Council, the Province of Ontario be approached to cost share in this capital infrastructure project.

(h/t to Joey Coleman for noticing the notice of motion)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 10:09:31

Council were told in the year the RHVP opened, by its own paid consultants, that they had to triple transit trips by 2021, or the RHVP would face poor levels of service.

However, they have done nothing toward increasing transit use, especially not to tripling-ridership levels.

Predctably, the RHVP is facing poor levels of service. Yet increasing ridership would be vastly cheaper--and less damaging to the citizens' health and environment--than building a new expansion to the Red Hill.

One grows tired of this constant pound-foolishness of our Council.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 09, 2015 at 16:30:01 in reply to Comment 114550

what do you mean, they've done nothing? They spent 100k removing a bus lane in Wards 1 and 2 because the 'Zellers/Target/whatever crappy store comes next' owners in Ward 5 don't like transit.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2015 at 15:55:49 in reply to Comment 114550

obviously the fiscally prudent response to all of this is to spend money on a fake bus lane pilot and then spend money to undo it. and then spend money to add lanes we don't need!

is that consultant report publicly available?

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 10:16:44

I truly have mixed feelings as I agree freeways invites more use; more congestion. It's just loosening the belt. Might as well put this out, a modified version of my earlier post.

A Proposal for a City-Wide Fair Safety Trade

  • Pedestrians die in Lower City due to fast/wide streets.
  • Car drivers die on Mountain due to lack of barrier on LINC freeway.

Here's a bargaining idea to save many, many lives in Hamilton.

  • Add safety barrier to LINC which will also add (inwards) two extra lanes, for 6-lanes
  • and Turn most Lower City 1-way streets into more pedestrianized 2-way streets (Complete Streets Lower City)

This will save many lives over years and decades.

I'm appealing to the whole spectrum here. Classic car owners, People Streets people, conservatives, hipsters, car-lovers, students, families. We may sometimes hate each other, but we must to work together to save lives.

October 19 may provide infrastructure improvements necessary to increase safety on LINC. From a practical perspective, virtually nobody here wants people dying on the streets in any form.

I'm aware that people are dying too often on the LINC due to the narrow median, cars crossing the median. The safety improvements to reduce deaths may involve expanding inwards to install a median barrier. That adds 2 extra lanes of traffic by expanding inwards (no outwards nature-destroying widening needed!). Viola. 6 lane LINC that's no wider than the original.

Yes, not all of us were for the freeway, but it's there now, it's useful, it provides a StoneyCreek-Dundas bypass nowadays (reducing crosstown traffic on Main-King, as traffic fell when LINC+RHVP finally got connected). Yes, not all of us is for loosening our belts, but not all of us are for 2-way streets either. However, we can be persuaded by major initiatives that is bundled with safety.

It could be a good bargaining chip to get more councillors working together.

In exchange for converting almost 100% of the Lower City 1-way streets to pedestrianized 2-way streets, we gain a 6-lane ring road around Hamilton. Everybody in affected wards gets something that benefits their ward. Work and run with that.

Safety improvements on LINC = 6 lane LINC (because of needing to add asphalt inwards to a median barrier). Less car drivers dying in Mountain, less pedestrians dying in Lower City.

A Fair Safety Trade

Mountain gets 6-lane LINC with good median safety barrier. Lower City gets Main/King/Queen/etc 2-way with upgraded brick sidewalks/bumpouts/ped features etc.

I'm not sure I 100% like my own idea. But it saves so many lives everywhere! Less people dying. That is not a "deal with the devil". Better vitality and businesses downtown, too. (See what James St N became after it became 2-way). It is a special situation where both cases literally provides sufficient taxpayer return just merely by all the lives saved, the business and commerce improvements, etc. Lower City should be a destination, not a crosstown route.

Funding may be available by Federal too for this infrastructure bargaining clip. If the money's there, let's do it. Let's also market it as a big bundled safety package, in addition to the usual benefits, to make the package more appealing to the whole city on average, so we don't all have to block each other. We're less likely to oppose another ward's changes if there are changes that we want in our own individual wards. Many could be happy with this safety perspective, on top of all the other benefits.


But I would only support it -- if the outer wards agree to let us Complete Streets the Lower City & build (not block) the LRT. Work together to extend it to Mountain (e.g. St. Joseph Hospital, Mohawk, Limeridge, wherever we agree it goes, etc). AND that major safety upgrades are done to RHVP/LINC to make accidents less fatal (median barrier) and maybe also make accidents a few percent less likely to happen (e.g. minor corrections to freeway specifications, water drainage, etc ... and if Federal forces money upon us specifically for freeways, then maybe fix defects such as poor camber/bank angles on critical curves -- as we anecdotally somehow seem to have more accidents than similar freeways even for similar speeds on similar curve radii).

Realistically, it is also a "market-it-to-the-residents" as well as a "market-it-to-the-council" issue; as everybody disagrees. Do whatever needs to be done. Space pops up when we install barriers which must be used up since median width on the straightaways is self-boobytrapped to add lanes when adding a barrier. Perhaps Carpool/Transit lanes. Safety upgrades. Whatever. Just make it a Fair Trade, please.

Again... I agree to the 6-lane widening (with safety upgrades) only if outer wards allows Lower City to become Complete Streets, and let Hamilton install the LRT. ;-)

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-02 11:45:17

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2015 at 20:50:11 in reply to Comment 114551

There needs to be some rather strict conditions attached (by Federal/Province), that all the below must be funded, before funds can be given for a LINC/RHVP widening:

  • Major safety improvements mandatory Too many people are dying. Doing a "cheap widening" is likely to cause more people to die (even with median barrier). A median barrier is needed but cannot be the only safety improvement.

  • Major flooding remediation mandatory Widening LINC/RHVP will increase flooding. There was a Mountain person who posted why funds weren't spent on flood remediation. Such a person would likely be for a LINC/RHVP widening, but he would be funding an increase in flooding! This will raise cost, but this issue needs to be be raised.

  • Major transit improvements mandatory This includes LRT extensions (e.g. A-Line extension to Limeridge) and bigger HSR bus fleet Hamilton-wide, as well as a new express HSR bus on LINC/RHVP. This also requires that the Lower City LRT not be blocked, as the funded LRT needs to get started ASAP, but that the A-Line should start quicklhy in a positive Ottawa-style manner (Ottawa starts Phase 2 quickly right after Phase 1), rather than do Toronto-style delays in transit-building.

  • New RHVP/LINC lane needs to be HOV/HOT right at the outset This is less frustrating than later converting a non-HOV to a HOV lane. The freeway is still adding capacity (...even though it will naturally be filled right back up induced demand...), but the HOV lane will keep express buses fast by sharing the HOV lane and make the lane move more than 2000 people per hour (as per typical freeway traffic).

...About the possible bundled transit improvements:

Pxtl came up with a good idea (though need a bit of efficiency tweaks...) of a new express bus route that takes advantage of a new HOV+transit lane on LINC/RHVP.

L-Line Express

This bus can even connect to the A-Line LRT station at Limeridge mall! (Which could be built by the time this all happens, anyway...given Jason Farr's pending motion)

This isn't full true BRT as it would share with cars in a HOV+transit lane, but it provides a legitimate inexpensive additional rapid transit option provided there are good connection, and these buses will mesh with the Hamilton Rapid Transit network better in the post-LRT world.

From some calculations and it appears there's even (barely) enough space for some narrow protected median bus stations (using left-hand bus-only offramps) near some of the overpasses, especially at Limeridge Mall.

That would be a great transit connection to a future Limeridge A-Line LRT stop. With Jason Farr about to raise a motion for an early ask for an A-Line extension (in a more positive Ottawa/Waterloo attitude of starting LRT extensions sooner, rather than the Toronto-style indecisiveness. Ottawa's considering Phase 2 very shortly after Phase 1).

Obviously, not a perfect solution (I prefer transit-oriented developments), but I realistically see we need to win Mountain support for fast-tracking LRT extensions, more rapid transit HSR/LRT, metro-wide HSR bus expansion, etc.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-05 22:03:05

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By toll troll (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 10:44:21

If there's too much traffic on red hill/linc, there is an obvious answer - put a price on it. Rush hour highway tolls will get rid of that congestion faster and cheaper than any number of new lanes and the money could help pay for more transit service, win-win.

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By troll indeed (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 12:46:58 in reply to Comment 114554

Sure, tax it. Then, when the 18 wheeler traffic is back to roaring down main and king in the core, what's next? taxing trucks for using surface streets? We can also make it so that we're cramming our arterials with more vehicles. Road tolls don't fix the problem, they will compound it.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 13:17:47 in reply to Comment 114558

With Main 2-way (4 lanes, 2 car lanes per direction, with bike lanes) and stop-n-go traffic, trucks will find it cheaper to pay the toll than the extra gas getting through a Complete Streets Lower City. Just the way many residents down here would like it.

Granted, it probably won't be full Complete Streets, but the Lower City Hamilton status quo would make way for something better.

It would not be an allowed through truck route either, and there can be enforcement, if need be.

Not everyone agrees; I know. But you know, if we enhance LINC/RHVP, then it's a quid pro quo.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-02 14:22:29

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By troll toll (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 13:05:51 in reply to Comment 114558

What do you mean 'back to,' they never stopped as anyone who is actually in the core already knows. Trucks are only allowed to drive on truck routes, if we take those streets off the truck route we won't get trucks on them, it's pretty simple. I don't think you care one bit about main and king, I think you only care about not wanting to have to start paying a toll for your 'free' highway.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 17:32:35 in reply to Comment 114561

I think you're slightly oversimplifying the rules on truck routes.

But I agree that we need to take a hard look at our truck routes and actually make some choices about where we want trucks to go. Right now we have so many "truck routes" we might as well just let them have every major arterial.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 10:47:16 in reply to Comment 114554

Tolls make total sense to me.

A way is needed to politically sell it. We've got Detroit making shortcuts to Niagara Falls, so toll the through traffic, perhaps. Given this is a municipally funded freeway, it makes sense to toll outsiders that aren't adding to Hamilton's economy.

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By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 12:52:20

At least there seems to be some consistency by some of the powers-that-be in not understanding or accepting the concept of "induced demand". Proposing adding more lanes to the Red Hill/Linc and resisting segregated bike lanes both seem to ignore the induced demand principle.

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By 2015 previous on widening roads (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 14:52:19

Spectator May 25, 2015, URL not allowed

Citizens At City Hall May 29,2015 Some rush hour congestion on the two roads has generated calls for speedy expansion to six lanes each. Estimated construction cost for the widening has been reported as $80 to $100 million. Debt costs would be additional to that amount as city finances dictate that the monies would almost certainly have to be borrowed.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 16:54:40

I found Pxtl's Red Hill Valley BRT idea quite interesting, for an L-Line express HSR bus.

https://twitter.com/Pxtl/status/66129178...

Since the median is boobytrapped (during safety upgrades) to automatically add 2 lanes when adding a center median barrier; we might as well figure out what the heck to do with 2 new lanes on the freeway, that we can tolerate co-operating over.

The widening of the freeway can be HOV/HOT/carpool lanes as a compromise. Carpools would be allowed to share the lanes with express buses. However, there would be offramps for buses directly into protected bus-only stations (with good barriers) nestled UNDER key overpasses such as Upper Wentworth next to Limeridge Mall. Elevators/stairs would go from the overpass to the stations themselves, as will pedestrian accesses directly linking into Limeridge Mall. If it ever overflows with bus congestion it could someday (if economically appropriate) to convert to a full LRT. For now, if the widening is foisted upon us, it realistically needs to be introduced as a kind of a HOV lane with a BRT-add-on.

Ottawa has BRT stations on their Queensway freeway too, complete with elevators/stairs from the overpasses above! It's been around since the 80s, and I grew up in Ottawa. Now they're replacing the BRT with LRT, even with Phase 2 being aimed to start fairly soon after Phase 1.

If this freeway expansion has to be built, this is a good way to make lemonade out of lemons (the perspective of lemons varies); satisfy Mountain and Lower City in a balance.

This would also be a great tie-in to an A-Line LRT extension into Limeridge mall. Obviously, a massive HSR bus expansion would be mandatory, along with the $300M bus garage that Hamilton needs for a massive HSR bus expansion. Perhaps include this in the Federal "ask".

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-02 18:08:02

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 17:44:10 in reply to Comment 114567

I don't think there's enough space under the bridges for both BRT stations and bypassing an HOV lane for cars around the BRT station. Putting them next to a bridge would work, but then you have a bus accelerating to merge with the HOV traffic. Or you have "HOV" cars parking behind a bus on the Linc, trying to merge into the left (fastest) lane of traffic to get around the bus.

I think Ryan is right about BRT - it really needs fully-dedicated lanes, otherwise it's just an express bus. And I don't think anybody calling for widening the Linc/RHVP would be happy with "as a bus-only-lane!"

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 13:35:54 in reply to Comment 114571

"BRT" vs "express bus", either is better than no transit enhancement to freeway widening. Let's ignore the marketing terminology for the moment. (Technically I agree with Ryan on what constitutes "BRT", but unfortunately it's a delicate game of compromise).

Hopefully sanity wins. But let's say, imagine, RHVP/LINC widening becomes unavoidable and Mountain eagerly agrees to funded improved transit piggybacked on the widening. So making a compromise lemonade out of lemons:

And actually, there's space at some of them when done creatively:

  • Temporary taper-down the width of leftmost shoulder lanes where the median bus stations are. Basically left shoulder can briefly become only 2 meter wide for the length of the BRT station. This transfers shoulder space to platform space. Strong bus station walls protect the median station. Right-hand shoulder is unaffected.
  • Put covered bus stations adjacent to the bridge (in front or past it) to avoid the bridge pillar space-vs-platform competing-space issue. Buses would only go around pillar immediately after leaving median bus station. That way, platform widths don't compete for space with the bridge pillar.
  • If absolutely necessary, very, very slight minor outwards sideways lane shift (about ~1-2 meters) for the remainder of lanes. This frees up 2-4 meters of width for the bus station.

At any random point along the whole LINC, there's enough median space for a bus station if you do the above. It looks tight, but there's actually 4.5 lanes of freeway width when you observe the extremely wide left shoulder lanes and the width of median allowing for a very wide median barrier that has room for mega-streetlamps (which isn't required inside the bus stations). That's more than enough space for 2 lanes of bus plus reasonable platform width (less than 1 lanewidth per platform).

Combined temporarily reduced shoulder width only for station length (~4 extra meters) and outward tapered outwards sideways freeway lane shift (total ~2-4 extra meters) so slight that it is not very noticeable to cars, would free up plenty of space (6-8 meters) needed the median bus station platforms that are about 3 meters wide, plus the necessary strong station walls separating freeway traffic from the bus station. In fact, we don't even need platforms that deep if the station layout is good, dry and safe.

While it looks tight, it's certainly doable. I'm pointing out there's indeed space for median bus stations. You'd still have 3 lanes (including HOV) going past both sides of the bus stations. The bus platforms don't need to be very wide especially if you have overhead cover that spans the station. This keeps the road dry, avoiding splashes. The outwards tapered lane shifting may not even be needed, if the whole station is covered and immediately adjacent to bridge.

The alternative simpler option (parclo stations) is not enough of a transit enhancement as a required attached condition on freeway widening, and would necessitate buses trying to fight traffic, with ramps/HOV lanes on opposite sides of the freeway. Besides, who want to wait at suburban parclo stations in the winter, feeling the wind of cars passing by on a wet road, when we can have a few simple covered median stations keeping the wind/wetness out, and a few simple push-button operated overhead infrared heaters (like GO uses) or even enclosed heated mini-rooms at one end of the platform (elevator/stairs end).

We only need maybe four or five small median bus transfer interchanges at strategic underpasses, this isn't a megaproject... Most of the cost would be the additional buses, which we need anyway!

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-03 14:59:25

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By faxzzz (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 16:58:31

If they add more lanes, the new lanes should be dedicated express bus lanes and/or dedicated truck lanes. But not for more automobiles in general.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 17:08:11

So I got carried away on Google Maps again.

Make it an HOV/bus lane and then run an express bus on it. I give you the L-line.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z...

map of hypothetical L-line

Of course, there are several problems with this, like the fact that every onramp would need to have an added bus-stop (sidewalk and possible widening) and the ability to go straight-through from the offramp back into the onramp... maybe traffic signal control too? Plus there are safety questions about running a bus on an expressway. Plus with the typical HOV design the HOV lane is on the far side from the ramps (and putting an HOV on the right side sounds insanely dangerous). Plus the city already has a planned L-line out to Waterdown, but how can you have a bus on the Linc and not call it the L-line?

But it can hit the Ancaster Business Centre, the Meadowlands, Lime Ridge Mall, Carmen's, the Queenston Traffic Circle (the terminus of the B-line), Eastgate Square, and the new Confederation GO station.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-11-02 18:28:45

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2015 at 17:36:57 in reply to Comment 114569

Given enough space (freeway lane shifting outwards in key areas) there can be BRT offramps on the left into dedicated bus-only median stations under bridges.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 13:44:33 in reply to Comment 114570

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 13:12:22 in reply to Comment 114570

...Obviously, transit-oriented developments are difficult at parclo's inside an established suburb. Some of them will be excellent interchange points (e.g. direct indoor walk to Limeridge Mall) while others may become enhanced bus transfer points. However, it would still be good for province/federal to package HOV+BRT as a required part of the freeway widening.

Assuming HOV+carpool lanes are used, with left-edge offramps to a few BRT stations, some of them will probably need to serve as enhanced interchange stations to a greatly upgraded HSR bus network. If funds is unavoidably be spent on widening the freeway, then the BRT potential aspect must simultaneously be investigated as well. It should be a required condition of any other government level granting subsidy (provincial, federal) for funding RHVP/LINC. The BRT angle is not perfect, but would provide very fast crosstown mountain transit, with proper HSR bus network integration (And eventually the Limeridge LRT connection that might already exist by the time the widening/BRT is done).

Adding a BRT element to the freeway widening would be an inexpensive add-on that may qualify for transit funding from another level of government. It's not the most perfect transit option, but it is a (relatively) inexpensive add-on.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-03 14:19:58

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 18:07:56

The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, found that the cost to the taxpayers of providing municipal services to suburban households is over twice as much as providing the same services to urban households.

We cannot even afford the sprawl we have now. Adding more is insane.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 18:19:02

There is also the question of storm run-off to add to the items apparently not considered by Conley at this stage.

The centre median is currently grass/natural material which aids in the absorption of water. If the median is paved, we will have more water run-off into the creek and stormwater system. A lot of money has already been spent to prevent flooding on this highway.

Expanding is not a simple matter of paving over the centre median.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 21:11:28 in reply to Comment 114573

The centre median is there only because they surveyed for six lanes but built only four when the highway was finally constructed. It is inevitable that it will become six.

It might be a better trade off to increase capacity on the major arterial roadways and restrict capacity on the smaller ones - like Aberdeen and Queen. This might have the effect of diverting traffic out of these residential areas.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 12:29:32 in reply to Comment 114577

Actually, the Linc has one spot where the centre median cannot be removed: there's a pedestrian underpass under the Linc over by MacNab school. The median gap there is a large open space, not the narrow columns we see at the highway overpasses. That bridge would have to be rebuilt somewhat for widening.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 01:01:28 in reply to Comment 114577

A nice dream, but all the lanes on the Linc in the world won't save Aberdeen and Queen because the 403 down the mountain is still 2 lanes each way. If anything it will make Aberdeen and Garth worse as more drivers go onto the link and the backups on the ramp to the 403 East get more congested, resulting greater numbers of drivers ditching the expressway to take Garth/Aberdeen as a bypass.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 18:34:56

the thing I love about motions like this, and it's quick vote to proceed by majority of councillors is it brings the mega-optimists who like to declare "things have changed at city hall!", back down to earth.

The same guy who said he would have voted against the Cannon bike lanes because of their COST, wants to drop $100 million on a transportation idea that has been proven the world over to simply lead to more traffic and more cars.
Hamilton city hall wants us to be a mini-L.A. Not every single one of them. But the vast majority.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 19:45:59 in reply to Comment 114574

That's because the majority of city council are incompetents that couldn't manage a Burger King...voted in by even more incompetents that populate this city...

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 21:19:10 in reply to Comment 114576

I personally think that major planning decisions like this should be handled by planning professionals who don't have to worry about being reelected. Let the councilors plan parades and pick the flowers for public gardens. These people are not qualified enough to be in charge of that much of our money.

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By shawnly (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 09:35:43 in reply to Comment 114578

Agreed!

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 02, 2015 at 22:50:27 in reply to Comment 114578

totally agree. I've heard about so many amazing cities in North America, and around the world, recently where the professional staff and planners are the ones given authority to implement a 10 year transportation plan, or cycling network, transit system etc..... Here, every single issue has to go through council and that's where anything even remotely progressive or urban goes to die.

A totally new governance system that removes council from every detail of every decision would be phenomenal. They authorize direction of course, since they're the elected officials. But then that council directive would be carried out by people who actually know what they're doing.

Look at our lame-o Shifting Gears cycling plan. As lousy and bare-bones as it is, fact is, it was approved by council. That should be where their involvement ends. A competent cycling staff should then be tasked with carrying it out with the allowed annual budget. Instead, we get the same councillors who voted to approve the plan a decade ago, now do these one-off votes to remove a bike lane here or there because a few speeding car drivers in their ward don't like it. I don't see how Hamilton will ever realize it's potential under this system.

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By George (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 02:58:09

Price the roads to ease congestion

"...even if we could build new capacity quickly and cheaply, an economic principle called “latent demand” means traffic congestion would quickly return to its previous, frustrating level. Some people already avoid driving because of congestion."

http://news.nationalpost.com/full-commen...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 06:46:04

So the Public Works Committee voted to approved Conley's motion. Choice quote:

Conley countered that most infrastructure money is spend on "under the ground piping" that people can't see.

"Let's try to get something that people can actually see for their taxes."

That's right: fiscal conservative Doug Conley wants to spend something like $100 million in public funds for political theatre.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 10:37:39 in reply to Comment 114582

In related debates, Council once again refused to base water rates partly on the amount of storm run-off generated for the sewers to handle rather than simply in terms of tap water consumed. This would have meant businesses with large surface parking lots would have had to pay for all the rainwater they channel into the sewers (and would presumably eventually lead to a reduction in surface parking because it actually costs something).

And members of Council refused to accept a climate change plan until they were assured that it wouldn't require them to spend any money at all!

http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/index.php

Conley's motion is not only fiscally irresponsible it also advocates spending $100 million to actually make our rainwater and climate change problems worse by adding paved area and encouraging more people to drive and more auto-centric developments on the mountain.

So, it's apparently wrong to spend money or adjust taxes to mitigate problems (e.g. tax storm runoff, build bicycle lanes, or increase transit service), but okay to spend $100 million (and millions more annually in maintenance) to make those problems worse?

And, as far as supporting city policies go, as far as I know Hamilton does not have an official policy of encouraging more driving (but it does have official policies to encourage walking, cycling, transit use and mitigate climate change)!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-03 11:51:07

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 13:47:27 in reply to Comment 114585

And, no attempt at all to even consider how to manage demand on the RHVP!

Here's some ideas:

  1. Impose tolls with rates based on time of day. If the road expansion is really so vital motorists should be willing to pay a small toll to finance it (say $2, cheaper than bus fare), and the toll should reduce demand from those who have other choices. After all, those who take the bus are asked to pay a pretty hefty toll (up to $2.55 per ride).

  2. Improve transit options for those living at the top of the expressway.

  3. Enforce more transit friendly, walkable mixed use designs in the new subdivisions.

Note that doubling per transit use and encouraging walking actually are (or were) among the City's official goals.

Surely, before spending $100 million Council could at least think about how to avoid the expansion. But it seems that when it comes to road network upgrades and expansion, cost is no object for many on Council.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-03 14:49:12

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 14:01:42 in reply to Comment 114591

yup. cans of paint and planter boxes for bike lanes are hugely expensive frills that we simply cannot afford because we're an old, poor city with a massive infrastructure deficit.

Somehow, we become a filthy rich city, with no infrastructure problems every. single. time. a new or wider road is suggested.
And to make it even more laughable, this is the only city I've ever been in with no congestion problems at any time of the day or night. If someone has to wait for a 2nd green light sequence to proceed through an intersection at 5:15pm they think we've become Beijing. I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened to me in the last year of driving in Hamilton.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 12:36:45 in reply to Comment 114585

I met with a senior staffer in the waste-water department years ago to share ideas regarding bioswales both on public sidewalks and all city parking lots, especially made easy to require in new developments. We all know about the flooding issues in Hamilton, and today on CHML one of the water guys was on there talking about the challenges of being an old city with the combined sewer system.

Needless to say, I almost had to pry open the staffers eyes in that meeting. ZERO interest at all. Sat there blankly nodding, probably thinking about ways to wrap up the meeting so he could get over to Hess Village for the extend-lunches on the patio that are common all summer long.

So, we continue to build giant parking lots with no trees or rain gardens, and continue to add median and sidewalk flower beds that need sprinklers in them since we build big curbs around the gardens to PREVENT rain water from flowing into them.

Meanwhile in cities that give a darn......

http://gothamist.com/2014/11/10/bioswale...

https://civilpdx.wordpress.com/tag/lid/

https://civilpdx.files.wordpress.com/201...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 13:24:13 in reply to Comment 114587

I understand stormwater runoff has been a bit of a problem on the Red Hill Valley Parkway, ahem. The sides and centre median are currently grassy strips that have some capacity to absorb water. Any guess as to what happens to the highway's stormwater management capacity if we replace more of that permeable surface with asphalt?

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2015 at 16:07:45 in reply to Comment 114589

Diplomatically speaking:

I had a conversation back and fourth a commentator in the Hamilton LRT facebook group (by a person against the LRT) complaining about funds not being spent on flood protection. Although the conversation ended at an impasse, and I respectfully disagreed with the "LRT is waste" related comments (occasionally told at me in derogatory terms) I however noted the very important flood protection complaint.

This is an excellent concern to think of, and must be raised in funding discussion. Many people who are for this freeway expansion are also simultaneously complaining about flood mitigation issues, and this must be priced in any discussion of the cost of RHVP/LINC enhancements. Floods seems to be happening more often and this is a cause for concern.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-03 17:11:24

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By TheXGuy (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 15:02:08

A few more thoughts to consider....

1) Centennial Parkway has been under construction for most of the summer. A lot of traffic has avoided this road and used the RHVP, as drivers learned that despite congestion on the RHVP, its still faster on the RHVP to get where they are going

2) How many driver trips that use The RHVP / Linc do not originate or terminate within the city limits? (ie people using it as a shortcut between Brantford and Niagara bound). Seems irresponsible to finance a "solution" to a problem that is not caused by any residents or people who are employed within the city.

3) The most congested area of the RHVP in afternoon rush hour is between Barton and King St. The distance between the 3 interchanges (Queenston being the 3rd) is very small. As many people here have pointed out, what are the ways we can reduce the source of the congestion?.....Can the city explore the benefits of Ramp Meters, as I’ve seen many times myself more than 10 cars all trying to merge all at once, followed by no cars for more than 30 seconds?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramp_meter

You can add another vote to the "No" camp.

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By NOTINMYBACKYARD (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 16:00:58 in reply to Comment 114593

"2) How many driver trips that use The RHVP / Linc do not originate or terminate within the city limits? (ie people using it as a shortcut between Brantford and Niagara bound). Seems irresponsible to finance a "solution" to a problem that is not caused by any residents or people who are employed within the city."

It is not a "short cut." It is a legitimate route. If the province built the mid Penn, or turned Highway 3 into a direct route from Chatham, traffic would be reduced. As it is, getting down the 403 at times is more nightmarish than going down the Linc.

If you are driving from Brantford to Niagara, where are you supposed to go?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 06:42:07 in reply to Comment 114597

If the province built the mid Penn, or turned Highway 3 into a direct route from Chatham, traffic would be reduced.

Induced demand. Induced demand. Induced demand. Induced demand. Induced demand.

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By Latent Demand (anonymous) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 08:27:09 in reply to Comment 114601

Latent demand. Latent demand. Latent demand. Latent Demand.

It is almost only anti car advocates who use the other term.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2015 at 20:18:16 in reply to Comment 114603

Technically and semantically....

"induced demand" and "latent demand" is still the same effect, whether one is a car advocate or anti-car advocate... It will decrease congestion in certain areas for a while until it fills right up.

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By Notsemantically (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2015 at 07:40:23 in reply to Comment 114705

There is a significant difference semantically. Induced implies created - as in created demand. Latent means the demand is there all along, its just sits and waits for supply.

There reason there is latent demand is because people want more, better, faster, private transportation.

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By Good Example (anonymous) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 08:50:08 in reply to Comment 114603

A good example of the curve shift reaching its max is the traffic on Mohawk, Fennell,Limeridge and Stonechurch which was effectively reduced with the building of the Linc.

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By TheXGuy (registered) | Posted November 03, 2015 at 15:10:10 in reply to Comment 114593

excerpt from article above....

"In 2000, a $650,000 experiment was mandated by the Minnesota State Legislature in response to citizen complaints and the efforts of State Senator Dick Day [2]. The study involved shutting off all 433 ramp meters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for eight weeks to test their effectiveness. The study was conducted by Cambridge Systematics and concluded that when the ramp meters were turned off freeway capacity decreased by 9%, travel times increased by 22%, freeway speeds dropped by 7% and crashes increased by 26%."

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By ADAM (anonymous) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 09:49:08

Put rail down the center of the Linc with tunnels to the stops at the major intersections. No sense wasting money widening if it is just for the common commuter. It should encourage people to take transit instead. This whole province needs more rail, put another line along the north service road, or Dundas street. We should not be wasting money on making streets wider, we should be investing in something that every metropolitan area has, and that is rail.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 10:08:48 in reply to Comment 114605

The problem with building light rail along the highway is that the potential for new investment in transit-oriented development, which would really benefit our suburban neighbourhoods, is severely limited due to the presence of the highway.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 11:04:41 in reply to Comment 114606

I am inclined to agree it's not a good use of LRT funds (unless attached transit funding is for LRT along a different Mountain route), even as an LRT advocacy. In the Plan B we still need to make sure transit (i.e. express buses) is part of the package, maybe even (as a requirement) linked to an LRT transfer station at Limeridge that also transfers to the suggested RHVP/LINC express buses!

As much as some of us may love or hate LINC/RHVP, Europe does have "ring roads" around their cities, too. The 403-Skyway-RHVP-LINC is now the defacto "ring road"; even with city cores that some of us love so much, that bans cars. Many of us hope it gets built, many of us hope it does not get built.

I believe in a quick Plan B, in the realism of an Almagamated city (before bitter feelings occur)

Basically both Mountain and Lower City may recognize widening funding might be refused by the new transit-happy governments unless it's packaged with transit too, and other requirements such as safety / flooding mitigations / etc.

The merits of the widening is unappealing to many here, but we also must be prepared for Plan B (in an Almagamated city) it may be the easiest way to successfully get majorly expanded transit installed in Hamilton, in a compromise.

Gotta make sure Plan B (unavoidable widening) has additional strict requirements attached to it. Obviously, the transit bargaining clip may work in favour both ways --

(A) seeing widen not happen (due to onerous extra requirements)

(B) seeing widening happen WITH majorly improved transit and other requirements. The transit bargaining clip may reduce overall average Hamilton opposition.

Simply stubbornly saying no isn't enough and will just simply create additional Mountain opposition against the LRT that will hurt us in 2018, etc.

Also working among others with the LRT advocacy, I keep engagements with my Mountain friends as polite as can be (for years on end!), and need to recognize we need to get transit done, and tame the downtown streets. Difficult compromises need to be brainstormed, and now.

So simply attach big conditions to the widening, to the point where it's either a "NO" (more easily happening due to cost of required transit / safety / flood-remediations / other addons) or a major transit win ends up occuring simultaneously with RHVP/LINC widening. The political climate is compatible with this now for the next several years. For me, it is in line with respectful engagement and sibling rivalry.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-04 12:44:52

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 13:59:57 in reply to Comment 114609

TL;DR: Raise a motion that major transit/safety/flooding upgrades be a mandatory condition of the widening fund. As an alternative response if simply saying "no" is difficult.

It'll end up doing the same thing (because of being too expensive, while having fewer angry Mountain residents than the "say no" technique); or actually achieve the goal successfully (we get major transit/safety/flooding upgrades too as a compromise).

By bringing this in, it gives a good opportunity to discuss/highlight the side costs of widening, and there exists many Mountain residents, including friends, that are understanding of these (or willing to hear this out).

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-04 15:11:50

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 17:41:38 in reply to Comment 114615

Raise a motion that major transit/safety/flooding upgrades be a mandatory condition of the widening fund. As an alternative response if simply saying "no" is difficult.

This will never work with our council. Transit, safety and flooding aren't concerns to a majority of them. Being able to speed home from work everyday is.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 18:29:27 in reply to Comment 114620

Doesn't mean we can't try....

The Lower City councillors would probably be glad to raise a motion, at least to bring the issue up, even if the motion becomes denied. The resulting discussion would be worthwhile. It's an important point.

Besides, provincial/federal governments might require it for funding -- forcing a compromise.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-04 19:30:01

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 19:15:47 in reply to Comment 114622

oh definitely worth trying. If for no other reason, as you say, it could get the province/feds involved. As we saw with LRT, getting upper levels involved might help Hamilton be spared from itself.

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By ADAM (anonymous) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 10:29:12

Every time I go to a "world class" city, I use public transit. Not only is the rail systems reliable, but its cheap and easy to use. Chicago, Baltimore (where main lines are free to use), Seattle (where transit is free from 9-5), Philly, Montreal is pretty good as well, Paris...etc. Special note getting to and from the airport where 3-5 bucks always gets you there or to downtown in under an hour.
In Ontario our rail is pitiful, made worse by the fact we have to borrow it off of other company's to move people on. We need to build more rail, even if private sector owns it, like all the lines in Japan.
Our highway use is very saturated.
One thing I don't understand as well , is why everything has to be in downtown Toronto. Why can't companies have satellite offices in the suburbs to keep people from driving in downtown all the time? Surely workers can get through a day without face to face contact from their desk. Off topic, but end of rant.
Also, our traffic problems are not on the B line. They are on the A line. Put LRT right down the middle of Upper James first. Downtown traffic is at worst bad a couple hours a day. Sorry , too much coffee today.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2015 at 10:55:23 in reply to Comment 114607

That's why Hamilton appears about to raise a motion to ask for more A-Line funds.

Brampton's LRT cancellation may expand Hamilton LRT funding: http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/27...

Specifically, see these tweets commented by Douglas and in the tweets, Jason Farr followed up already:

John Neary said about the new funds (from Brampton LRT cancellation) on Twitter:

John Neary ‏@jddneary Oct 28 @moore_oliver #HamOnt should ask for this $$ for the A-line

Jason Farr has a motion to ask for these funds for A-Line LRT:

Jason Farr Ham On ‏@JasonFarrHamOnt Oct 29 @jddneary @moore_oliver @FredEisenberger @MGreenWard3 @aidan_johnson @raisethehammer I have drafted a motion that will address this, John.

Jason Farr Ham On ‏@JasonFarrHamOnt Oct 29 @RyanMcGreal Done. Note it is a draft and efforts already underway on this. As well, I will work closely w mayor / Committe and C Murray

This isn't impossible.

Ottawa's starting Phase 2 LRT almost immediately after Phase 1 LRT.

And Kitchener-Waterloo is wanting to do LRT extensions fairly quickly.

We shouldn't inherit "Toronto" attitude here, Hamilton can link both A-Line (at least to Limeridge) and B-Line sooner than many of us may think is possible with Hamilton politics. We finally now have the right political climate to get B-Line finally started with 2017 procurement (contract signing before election), 2019 construction and 2023 completion. Only 3 councillors opposed transit-friendly development.

So I agree with you, bring on the starter segment of Mountain A-Line (to major destinations like St Joes, Mohawk, Limeridge, etc). But B-Line is where things will definitely get started, it's too late to change it according to the September 23 meeting or that we lose the funding (just like Brampton). It isn't a perfect LRT route, but it gets us started and something we can expand to the Mountain with!

Please, please do not assume that just because B-Line is being built first (the only LRT that can sucessfully be signed into contract before next election), we're not pressing hard (As LRT advocates) to get it up to the Mountain destinations as soon as possible.

We can't afford to play like Toronto. Fortunately, our mayor is not a Rob Ford. We need to play like Ottawa and Kitchener/Waterloo with A-Line construction beginning immediately after B-Line construction.


Obviously, this isn't necessarily mutually exclusive with a LINC/RHVP widening which (personally) I'm willing to tolerate as long as Mountain lets Lower City begin the LRT ASAP (which will also allow it to Mountain sooner).

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-04 12:03:33

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted November 04, 2015 at 13:45:51

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted November 05, 2015 at 08:40:19

By the way, Toronto wants Brampton's LRT money to fund part their East Waterfront LRT line along Queen's Quay East!

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2015 at 10:53:16 in reply to Comment 114631

A much needed project, too. Also as far removed from Brampton as Hamilton, but also a much needed project too.

Hamilton still should ask anyway; and other pots (additional funding) may come as well.

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By Reality Check (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2015 at 23:51:06

If we are going to waste more money on expanding this road when they were warned and are still being warned that continued expansion & new roads only bring more traffic, toll it and restrict truck traffic to prevent circumvention. This road was never the boon people pretended it was and is why it took so long before private development interest finally found a tool in Di Ianni to force it through and sue anyone who dared oppose it. We can't even keep a bus lane downtown yet we are willing to blow millions on expanding a road we haven't finished paying for yet? That is just plain stupid. In addition it will cause our infrastructure problems everywhere else to get worse. Priorities are completely screwed and we can't allow the city to continue on this idiotic path that will again just bring more traffic and then there will be a 6 lane headache. We need to change the culture now and remove more cars from the roads through other public transit methods not paving our city completely and digging further into debt on a path that really has no end.

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