Planning a transit corridor through the Pier 7/8 redevelopment before redevelopment begins is an effective way to ensure that we serve our newest urban neighbourhood with convenient rapid transit.
By Dan Botham
Published January 04, 2016
This article has been updated.
Hamilton's Pier 7/8 redevelopment plans overlook demand for public transit to the new neighbourhood. Although it's promising that the City of Hamilton hired IBI Group to consult on the planning of the Pier 7/8 redevelopment, the urban planning and engineering firm's report presented at a recent public information forum provided no recommendations regarding transit service to Hamilton's newest urban neighbourhood.
The report provided recommendations regarding car parking, car share parking and bike share parking but made no mention of recommendations for integrating existing or new transit into the new neighbourhood.
The IBI study cited a 10-12 percent current mode share for transit in the waterfront and Pier 7/8 area, which is currently served by the 99 Waterfront, 4 Bayfront bus and the 20 A-Line express bus route.
The plans describe intensification from the current use of car parking and boat storage to 3-8 storey residential and commercial use.
Increased transit mode share can be expected as intensification often leads to increased demand for transit. However, neither of these documents addresses how transit can be integrated and expanded to meet increased demand.
Although significant attention was given to projected demand for parking, the role of integrated and expanded transit in decreasing demand for parking was also not addressed.
Brownfield redevelopment in neighbouring municipalities, such as the Front Street East extension past Cherry Street in Toronto (the former Pan Am Village in the West Don Lands of Toronto), took advantage of pre-development planning to incorporate corridors for the exclusive use of transit (transit corridors) into their redevelopment plans.
This has allowed for the development of an extension of an existing TTC streetcar route into the redeveloped area through a exclusive transit corridor which will provide increased on-time service relative to a street car route sharing space with general traffic.
Since the Pier 7/8 redevelopment area surrounds the current A-Line express bus route and the potential A-Line LRT corridor (James Street), the planning of a dedicated transit corridor into the Pier 7/8 would allow for a high level of service through the redeveloped area.
The design of the A-Line LRT through James Street is currently limited by many factors including the narrow right of way through much of the street. Planning a transit corridor through the Pier 7/8 redevelopment before redevelopment begins is an effective way to ensure that the challenges of building a transit corridor in a confined space don't become barriers to serving our newest urban neighbourhood with convenient rapid transit.
Update: I also submitted a version of this letter to the City, and I just received a response from Alan Waterfield, Senior Planner of Community Initiatives. The following is an excerpt from his response:
The assumption of increased transit service to the waterfront and Piers 7/8 is central to the work on the traffic and parking studies, and is part of the justification for IBI's recommendation to reduce the required parking standards. That may not have been explicit in their December 9 presentation slides, as it was a snapshot of work in progress.
City staff and the project consultants are aware of the developing plans for extending the A-line LRT north along James Street to the West Harbour GO Station, and beyond to the waterfront.
As specific routing is yet to be confirmed by the Light Rail Transit office, we are keeping an eye on the LRT plans as the preliminary work had indicated the northern terminus could reach James and Guise Streets.
That intersection is near to the area subject to the Piers 7&8 Urban Design Study, which is a smaller study area than for the traffic and parking studies that are considering the impact of LRT to the waterfront and how it could influence future modal shares, the parking management strategy and the transportation demand management plan.
Also in regards to transportation, the urban design study will include recommendations regarding street sections and the various types/widths of right-of-ways required to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, transit, enhanced commercial sidewalks, landscaping and on-street parking.
One of the options includes a vehicle-free street that includes a stormwater feature. If you have not already done so, you might want to view the October 29 urban design presentation as it provides more detail than the December 9 recap presentation. It can be accessed here:
Thanks to Mr. Waterfield for his thoughtful response.
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