Downtown Bureau

Main-King LRT Split May Be a Good Idea

Hamilton will find out by July if Metrolinx has chosen LRT for the B-Line. Having just experienced an LRT system and its economic development impacts firsthand, I don't see any other logical conclusion.

By Jason Leach
Published April 08, 2009

On my recent west coast jaunt [watch for an upcoming photo tour on RTH], I made sure to take in some observations pertaining to LRT in both a suburban and urban context. It was a good exercise to ride the rails in Portland while thinking of our own application here in the Hammer.

I've been very pleased upon returning home to see how far along the city's rapid transit office has come and the absolute wealth of information that is now available on their website.

Of particular note is the fact that they are leaning towards a European style LRT vehicle for Hamilton. I think this is a great choice and will really help to change the perception of public transit in the Hammer.

Below are a few observations that I believe need to be considered.

Portland Light Rail with streetscaping and wide sidewalks
Portland Light Rail with streetscaping and wide sidewalks

The streetcar is not an LRT. It could be made to function like one, but it's Portland application is simply a streetcar that operates like a bus. I'm not sure that we ever got over 10-15 miles per hour while on the streetcar, and if we did, it was for a brief moment.

Don't get me wrong, it's nicer than a bus and as we all know, fixed rails in the street help draw more riders and businesses as opposed to regular buses; but it is different than a full light rail system.

As for the LRT, I am not only less opposed to the idea of having our tracks split between King and Main, but I'm slowly growing in favour of it. As the above photo shows, in Portland the trains run on one-way streets, one block apart throughout the heart of downtown. As an out of town visitor riding the system, I double-checked my direction and had no problems.

In the above photo, the train is running in the same direction as the traffic. Now, imagine this exact scene on Main or King St, but with one more lane of car traffic added, and with curb parking continuing. It would make sense to have the trains run on the opposite curb lane than buses traditionally use, as is the case in Portland. We'd also have room to widen our brutally narrow sidewalks and to add trees, flowers and decorative lighting.

Keep in mind, of course, that the days of timed lights and long distances between lights needs to come to an end, and with LRT it certainly would. Portland has stoplights at every intersection downtown and none of them are timed to go green. Speeding cars simply could not be found in their downtown.

This photo would also be a fairly accurate representation of how LRT would function along King East through our International Village.

That brings me to the main point of all this. Riding the trains on separate streets seemed good for downtown and good for business. As we all know, it is people, not speeding cars, who ride light rail and who also stop at cafes, shops and major retailers. Downtowns were made for walking.

The city's rapid transit office clearly shows that the preferred alignment for our system from University Plaza to Paradise Road, and again from the Delta to Eastgate is a transit median with LRT running down the middle of the roadway.

This is an excellent design for our B-Line and seems as though it would also work for our A-Line on the Mountain. The fact is, the walking distance from King to Main is no further than the walking distance between Portland's LRT lines downtown. The only spots in Hamilton where the walk is slightly longer is in the Dundurn-Locke area and the Sherman-Gage area.

One would assume that all four of those major intersections will have LRT stops, meaning folks who live in that area will have a two or three minute walk between stations. That will be good for property values, neighbourhood safety and small businesses that may start up in those neighbourhoods.

Downtown, I think having LRT split across both streets (Main and King) will be good for both streets. Again, picture the above scene as our own International Village. That stretch would rapidly become a busy downtown neighbourhood with LRT on its main street.

I realize that property values will increase within a few minutes of LRT stations, but there is also something to be said for the actual physical presence of light rail trains on a street. Portland's system functioned mighty fine with its downtown alignment separated onto different streets.

They were also careful to space downtown stops much closer together, which is something Hamilton will need to do as well between Dundurn and Wellington.

I encourage you to browse the city's rapid transit page and send an email of support to your councillor and the mayor.

Hamilton will find out by July if Metrolinx has indeed chosen LRT as the vehicle of choice for the B-Line. Having just experienced an LRT system and its economic development impacts firsthand, I don't see any other logical conclusion.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 11:08:29

the wide sidewalk in the photo looks luxurious.

walking to downtown along king or main west is downright frightening at present.

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By hems (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 12:16:29

A great posting Jason. I think a major deciding factor in putting in the most efficient and effective LRT system in Hamilton will be the 403 juncture overpass. I haven't seen any engineering reports on how they would evaluate going over the 403 on King and Main Streets but I think, once they get started on a two line system such as King and Main, a decision will have to be made on how to approach the 403 so the LRT can link up with Westdale and McMaster University.

I personally think that the King/Main idea makes a lot of sense. First, it would work with the flow of the existing traffic structure. Second, it would be more cost effective to implement and third, it would help with quick turn-around options at Dundurn, Queen and Paradise.

Really look forward to seeing how this would go forward.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2009 at 14:11:52

This goes back to what I was posting months ago. I don't think one-way streets for King and Main are necessarily bad, considering the "long" shape of lower Hamilton. The real problems are the number and width of lanes, the lights set to encourage speeding, and the hostility of current planning to peds and cyclists.

Is there a way to time lights for maximum efficiency of LRT?

If not, then I think they should have one-way King and Main with timed lights to 40km/hr. It would provide a smooth ride for drivers, a comfortable environment for pedestrians, and cyclists of different abilities could ride the wave at either 20 or 40 km/hr.

The key though, for both King and Main, is to appropriate one lane for LRT, a half-lane for sidewalk, and a half-lane for bikes. Allowing for an adjustment period of increased car congestion, this would make the functioning of King and Main much more efficient and pleasant.

I think the city should try their best to time these changes in accordance with the next spike in oil prices. The conformist element of Hamilton reacts to lower energy prices like bacteria to an increase of food supply. They really do get more bold and aggressive with their engines, and that could have political consequences.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 14:19:58

LL said "Is there a way to time lights for maximum efficiency of LRT?"

Why not use a second set of lights just for the LRT like Toronto has for the street cars?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2009 at 14:27:33

LL wrote:

Is there a way to time lights for maximum efficiency of LRT?

My understanding is that the LRT vehicles will automagically trigger a green light when they approach the intersection.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 14:52:07

if you check out the citys' rapid transit website that I provided a link to, you can see the technology used for transit signals. As in Portland, Toronto etc.... transit signal lights are mounted beside stoplights and they turn green when a train needs them to, putting all 4 directions of traffic at a red light. I incurred the wrath of an LRT horn in Portland while stepping onto the road thinking my light was about to go green, when in fact, the train was getting priority and coming through.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 16:53:32

by the way, those sidewalks are standard throughout downtown Portland. Back in the 60's their downtown streets looked like Main and King. The results of their desire to become a livable city are wonderful and should inspire us to push for the same here.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 18:30:34

Great post Jason!

Hopefully Metrolinx and the city come through and make downtown Hamilton a more livable place. We already have a wealth of great restaurants, bars, and arts venues, and I can only imagine how successful they would be if more people lived and travelled downtown.

Too bad the type of split found on Main/King is not feasible on the mountain.

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By an idea (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 20:06:49

I think it would be great if the LRT B-line would actually go through Westdale and right into McMaster University with two or three stops there. Westdale is a great destination and would benefit from an LRT line. McMaster University is even a more popular destination and many people have travel needs to the university that go beyond a single stop at the McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC).

I know this is wishful thinking. McMaster University wants no vehicular traffic to go through its campus, and I understand the city plan is to build up the corridor along Main West.

However, I really believe having transit go right through Westdale and the heart of campus would make more sense in serving the transit needs of Hamiltonians. I also think having many LRT stops on McMaster's campus would make the campus more pedestrian friendly and encourage people to take transit there. Wouldn't it be great if the LRT stopped at the student centre/library, and then at the GO transit terminal on campus, and then made its way down to the hospital? These are places people want to go.

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By Hopeful (registered) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 21:44:30

It's probably too much to dream but I still think bi-directional Main Street LRT with the remaining lanes reserved for bikes, feet, delivery vehicles and buses / taxis/ HOV's would be the way to go (at least from City Hall east until the Delta). King Street could be two-way and Canon/Wilson could be one-way for the thoroughfares (like a loop route almost). I see the fact that the City wants to continue buses on Main even after an LRT is running as a problem unless something radical like this is done. Purchasing some of the vacant properties along Main for parking should also be considered (from Wellington to Gage at least). That's my two cents.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 22:09:01

an idea, I'm with you 100%. Once we get around to designing the route with stops/stations, I'll certainly be an advocate for having a stop at the MUMC and then running the LRT up the centre of campus with a second stop in the University Hall-Student Centre area and then back out to Main St and on to University Plaza. We'd be crazy to skip over our university with LRT. It's a massive, built-in ridership and a huge city destination. Yes, it would have been awesome to see LRT through Westdale, but that's obviously not going to happen now. Perhaps someday a local streetcar route will be developed that connects Westdale with the Innovation Park, Locke St Dundurn/Victoria Park and our new (possible) PanAm stadium on Barton.

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By LRTsupporter (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 22:51:28

It does not make much financial sense to construct uni-directional dedicated right of way LRT tracks on two seperate streets. This automatically increases the associated rail construction cost by 50%.

I'd favour bidirectional dedicated right of way rail contra eastbound traffic along Main. There is enough allowance along Main to accomodate both directions of LRT, widened pedestrian walkways and two lanes of eastbound automobile traffic (and a third lane for parking from Dundurn to Gage). It would also make it easier to justify a second east/west route further north sometime in the future. Most importantly, the number one rule for creating a successful transit line is to keep the route as simple as possible.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2009 at 23:04:36

Regarding Traffic through Mac: What's the status of the bus routes now? I know the redirected the Bee line so it doesn't go through Mac anymore, but what about the other three HSR routes? Are they still going through campus? Mac seemed determined to banish the buses. It's what they did to their own bus service which now only goes from parking lots to the newest residence (Keyes? Keynes?).

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By an idea (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2009 at 07:23:40

McMaster's campus plan is to totally eliminate all city transit vehicles through its campus by 2011.

The university argues that this will make the campus "pedestrian friendly." I disagree. This will make the campus more inacessible than ever, in my opinion. They are basically encouraging people to take their cars rather than hop on public transit.

I am surprised that there isn't a greater outrage by both students and staff at McMaster at the re-routing of the B-line bus off campus and the plan to eliminate all city buses that go through campus by 2011.

Hopefully the LRT station/stop discussions that will happen in the near future will re-open the debate. I'll be there!


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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 09, 2009 at 08:43:44

In my head I can see on direction running down downtown King street now with a wider sidewalk on the one side and parking on the other. There are already a fair amount of trees but a little bit more streetscaping would be great... Of course the part I'm speaking of is the single short two lane section just past Victoria. But traffic's always moving slowly (a good thing) and I invariably see something I've never seen before. Main will need some MAJOR work because of it's sheer width but it'd be awesome to turn both of those stretches into the same sort of feel.

As far as crossing the 403, I'd think that a strictly LRT bridge where both can cross would be the easiest way to do it. Alternatively they'd have to install 2 bridges (more land appropriation costs) or use/demolish the existing bridges which are both not so good of an option.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2009 at 00:05:53

How is a transit system where the tram never gets above 10-15 MPH an improvement over the bus. I thought the idea of mass transit was to move people quickly and efficiently. Why would tracks attract more people than a good bus system? I am not a big believer in LRT but that has got to be better than this tram that only hits speeds of 15 MPH. Eastgate to McMaster is 18 KM at a speed of 30 KMP (15 MPH) that's going to translate into over an hour compared to 40 minutes on a King bus and 30 minutes on the B-Line. How does this attract ridership? Maybe as a tourist attraction like the trolley on the Harbourfront trail. If we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars should we not get an improvement?

Our downtown is a very unique place. Lower Hamilton is a long city sandwiched between the lake and the escarpment. Then we have the four mountain accesses funneling more traffic downtown. Portland city proper has a population approaching that of all of amalgamated Hamilton. The population of the metro area (the American way of doing things, they tend not to amalgamate their urban areas) is well over two million. Their trams are supported by the entire region. The tram system is less than 8 KM from one end to the other. Compare that to an 18 KM stretch from McMaster to Eastgate.

I think it is time for a reality check.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2009 at 09:08:20

Mr. Meister, just to clarify my post. The Portland Streetcar traveled through the downtown at around the same speed as a city bus while I was riding it in Portland. Not the LRT. The LRT zips along upwards of 60 miles per hour, not that we'd see it going that fast along King Street, but the point is, an LRT system will in fact get folks from Eastgate to Mac faster than their car could with the priority transit signals and doing away with this 'green wave' along King/Main that cars currently enjoy.

As for Portland's LRT system, their blue line is 33 miles long. The red line is 25 miles long. The yellow line is 7 miles long. And the newest line preparing to open this fall, the Green line is roughly 14 miles long. Also, I don't have numbers in front of me, but I'd venture to guess that our Mac-Eastgate corridor is more densely populated than any region of Portland. Their 'urban area' of well over 2 million stretches quite a ways out from the city in all directions.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2009 at 10:03:46

browsing some other blogs about LRT in Hamilton I came across one with some incorrect info:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthre...

A poster incorrectly states that the entire LRT route will be built on different streets, thus doubling the cost of installation for the entire route. In fact, an alignment along King and Main would only take place from Paradise Road to the Delta - 6 kilometers in length. A quick look at a city map is all one needs to do to figure this out. Obviously the city will do excellent research, but I know many folks read posts like the one above and don't bother to view the route for themselves. It can lead to misconceptions and misinformation. As has been stated in the media, on the city's transit site and here at RTH, the LRT system will run along a median transit alignment the rest of the route.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 10, 2009 at 13:08:37

Why doncha just re-open your account? ;)

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2009 at 13:22:47

Lol...no thanks. Flar moved away, so no more good photos of the Hammer.... RTH is heads and shoulders above any other online news source in the Hammer. Keeps me plenty busy!

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2009 at 03:44:55

Jason, if the streets of Portland are 2 way with as many lights as you claim than I doubt any vehicle gets above
10-15 MPH. I also expect that there are lots of ways to avoid the downtown if you do not want to go there, unlike Hamilton. Portland is the biggest city in Oregon and the major metropolitan area for many miles around. Not quite the same description as Hamilton.

The Blue Line connects Gresham a suburb of 100,000 to Portland and is 15 miles long (24 KM) so it's a lot like the Go train running into Toronto . The Red Line is a little short of your 25 mile claim, it is actually a 5.5 mile (9 KM) line running to the airport which has well over a million people flying in/out of it a month. The Yellow lone is 5.8 miles (9.4 KM) and goes to the Expo Centre a complex well over 300,000 square feet, a lot like the 500,000 Toronto International Centre. The new Green line is 8.3 miles (13.4 KM) and will run to the Clackamas Town Centre via the Portland State University (almost 25,000 students).The town centre is almost 1.5 million square feet of retail, a lot bigger than Eastgate. Klackmas is another suburban area with a population of well over 300,000. The cost? budgeted at $575.7 million. And that's US currency so add the 20-25% conversion on top of that.

So the whole thing is a lot different than you describe it as. The Hamilton downtown does not have enough jobs or residents to warrant the kind of expense 16 km of LRT would cost. Portland is the largest city in Oregon and is the hub of the entire state. Hamilton is half city half suburb. Toronto still dominates all of Southern Ontario.

The best way to re-vitalize Hamilton's downtown, if that is what we are trying to do, is get people to live there. I suspect that will take a lot of money. Perhaps some subsidies for condo projects or office towers?

Portland is a very different city than Hamilton with different challenges. Hamilton's geography is very unique and must be taken into account. Unfortunately a lot of the features force traffic into or at least through the downtown. Maybe we need new mountain accesses to take traffic away from downtown rather than into it.






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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2009 at 09:07:53

Mr Meister, you're again helping to make my point. Downtown Portland was nothing like it currently is back in the 60's before construction of the LRT lines began. LRT and proper growth planning has led to a dense downtown with great retail, jobs and residential growth. That city drew a line around the city and said "no development until our urban areas are redeveloped." And unlike here, they didn't keep expanding the boundary everytime a buddy showed up with some money at city hall.

We have large destinations here just as they do, and one of the main points of LRT is to redevelop downtown into a downtown like theirs. Some people may love the status quo as they fly along King East through central Hamilton, but I envision a future like Portland's for the Hammer.

While they are the only city in their state of any decent size, keep in mind, we have millions of people within a one hour drive of our city. Hamilton's downtown could become a massive hub of jobs with GO Transit/LRT connections for many folks to come into town each day.

You're right about the airport comparison...ours will never be like theirs with Pearson nearby. Otherwise, there is no reason why we can't see Hamilton develop more fully along LRT lines in both the lower and upper city.

Also, if you disagree with my MAX line length descriptions, take it up with Trimet, their transit agengy. That's where I got my info:

http://trimet.org/max/index.htm

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By number crunching (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2009 at 13:37:59

Jason wrote:

'A poster incorrectly states that the entire LRT route will be built on different streets, thus doubling the cost of installation for the entire route.
In fact, an alignment along King and Main would only take place from Paradise Road to the Delta - 6 kilometers in length. A quick look at a city map is all one needs to do to figure this out.
Obviously the city will do excellent research, but I know many folks read posts like the one above and don't bother to view the route for themselves. It can lead to misconceptions and misinformation.
As has been stated in the media, on the city's transit site and here at RTH, the LRT system will run along a median transit alignment the rest of the route. "

So the split concept will mean a cost of $15x12km + $25x10km, or roughly $430 million to set the rail, $30 million more than keeping it strictly on Main. I guess the question is, what benefit is accomplished by spending that extra money to split the route rather than keep it on one street?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2009 at 14:45:29

I'm not too sure what the city's rationale is, but my view can be read in this blog posting. Hopefully the city will look at what is best for downtown retail streets and neighbourhoods, not what is the best way to maintain 3 lanes of high speed, one-way car traffic downtown.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 12, 2009 at 01:02:10

I suggest people look at Sheffield, England. Sheffield is the same size as Hamilton (city proper and metro). It's the "steel city" of the UK. It has 3 light rail lines, built in the early nineties. And I haven't researched it in depth, but it looks like they've attracted new industries to recover from the deindustrialization depicted in "The Full Monty".

It strikes me that it's not size of the city that counts, but the ratio of rail length to area of dense land use, that makes light rail work. Hamilton would start with much smaller lines than Portland. That's okay.

Besides, the anti-LRT arguments all assume there is no such thing as history. The global supply-demand picture for energy, plus industrial reorganization at the tail-end of fordism, strongly suggests that mass motoring won't be as sustainable in the future.

Things change. You have to anticipate.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2009 at 01:06:27

Jason, I got my info from one of their sites and if you spend a few minutes with Google maps my numbers add up. I grant you there is a lot of misleading info out there. Even before LRT was built Portland was the major urban centre in the state. It certainly helped Portland but it was in a very different situation then we are in.

LL, Great idea let us look at Sheffield. City population is very similar to ours and that is about the only similarity. Their density is over 1400/KM2 compared to our 450/KM2 . The area of Sheffield is less than 400KM2 compared to our 1100KM2(Portland city covers less than 400KM2). They are the biggest city in the area and likely the destination. Look at all the roads radiating out (or converging in). In Ontario we amalgamate our urban areas. Hamilton swallowed Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas and Flamborough and almost doubled its population overnight. It also increased its area by even more. Most parts of the world do not do this so comparisons are difficult. England is a good chunk smaller than Southern Ontario and has a population well over 50 million compared to Southern Ontario's 13 million. This is the big problem with transit in our country, it is very BIG. There is not a single transit system in North America that breaks even. We need public transit but we need to be careful how and what we do. The Blue line has been a great success how about extending the concept? Maybe Mohawk Rd?


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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2009 at 08:29:19

Burgermeister Meisterburger:

Thanks for your skepticism. But I have to conclude that you're contradicting yourself. First you say that Hamilton is different because it's politically amalgamated with its suburban and rural hinterlands. Then you say it's different because it's low density. Obviously, the two facts are not unrelated: the 450/KM2 population density figure for Hamilton includes the rural areas that have been amalgamated. I was unable to find the population density for Hamilton's lower city (where the LRT B-Line will actually be), but I'm sure it's not too different from either Sheffield or Portland.

I've never understood the argument that transit won't work as well in Canada because it's big. What does the distance between Winnipeg and Medicine Hat have to do with someone's daily trip across Hamilton? Most of my travel in Canada (Hamilton, where I live) is by bicycle. My main problem isn't distance, but bad planning. If I need to borrow a car to go to Moose Jaw, I'm sure having decent transit options in Hamilton won't stop that.

I would argue that a high energy output for inter-city travel would add even more imperative for making intra-city travel as efficient as possible.

Blue line? Do you mean the B-line? Yes, it is successful. In fact it's badly overcrowded. It desparately needs added capacity. There are various arguments being forwarded that LRT, rather than bus-only lanes, is the best way to do that. I was skeptical of LRT when the idea was first floated. But I've since been convinced.

Another thing: you missed probably the most important similarity between Hamilton and Sheffield. It has the same experience with de-industrialization in the steel sector.

Yes, Sheffield and Portland have the advantage of being the only big cities in their respective areas. Yes, Hamilton is near Toronto, which reduces its relative "gravity". But the GTA is widely understood to be at capacity. Not much more sprawl is in the cards. And Hamilton is the only place in the area where people can potentially access the civic use-values of downtown TO for a much lower COL.

With expanded GO service and LRT, densifying downtown Hamilton would be a piece of cake.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2009 at 10:22:37

LL wrote:

I was unable to find the population density for Hamilton's lower city (where the LRT B-Line will actually be), but I'm sure it's not too different from either Sheffield or Portland.

It's not too different. The population density of wards 1 through 4 is around 1,600 people per square kilometre:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1164

I've never understood the argument that transit won't work as well in Canada because it's big.

It's old-fashioned North American exceptionalism, the belief that the principles that apply everywhere else somehow don't apply here because [insert arbitrary difference].

North Americans don't live an "average" distance from each other, but live clustered together in dense geopolitical agglomerations called cities.

There's no reason aside from political will why North American cities can't be as walkable / cyclable / transitable as European cities - as those North American cities that buck the trend clearly demonstrate.

Portland is dense, walkable, transit friendly and vibrant because its citizens decided a few decades ago to transform its urban land use and transportation patterns.

Watch how the per capita indicators change over time: distance driven, fuel consumption, GHG emissions, distance walked, distance cycled, transit use, etc. More importantly, visit Portland, walk around and take a look at the city, as Jason just did and documented in his recent photo tour:

http://raisethehammer.org/article/855

Unless you're incorrigibly opposed to transit improvements (cough cough Mr Meister cough cough) it's hard not to come away convinced.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 00:54:46

North American cities have a much different build than most European cities. For centuries we have had much more land available so price has historically been much lower. Most people regardless of nationality would prefer to have a single family home with a backyard etc. That has always been much more obtainable here than there and continues so to this day. This has resulted in much lower densities here than there. Where we have a sea of single family homes they have a sea of 3 to 6 story buildings. All built in very close proximity to each other.

That kind of living is not the first choice of many people. Many live that lifestyle because they have no choice desperately trying to afford that "dream home."

I am not anti transit. I am aware of the problems and believe we should address them not spend hundreds of millions of dollars and then say "oops why didn't I think of that"

The B-Line (not Blue Line) is very busy, as are most of our bus routes for about 5 hours a day. Transit runs for what 18 or 19 hours a day. Have you looked at a King or Barton bus at 10 P.M? I have seen them running totally empty. That is one of the biggest hurdles with transit how do we afford enough vehicles and drivers for those two busy hours in the morning and two more in the afternoon? Then what do we do the rest of the time.

A lot of the LRT projects you are so fond of are very similar to the Go Trains for people commuting to Toronto. I do not see a need for that in Hamilton. A lot of the other Trams and similar are quite small not an 18 KM monstrosity.

Calgary is the only place in North America with a population of under one million to have LRT. (please do not try telling me ST. Louis is smaller than Hamilton) They are building the ninth phase and that will bring them up to 44 KM. Again Calgary is the major city in the district and has a downtown that employs thousands. A far cry from Hamilton.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 09:39:17

Cities under 1 million in North America with LRT:

Livermore, CA Oceanside, CA Sacramento, CA San Jose, CA Denver, CO Baltimore, MD Boston, MA Minneapolis St Louis, MO Camden, NJ Newark, NJ Jersey City, NJ Buffalo, NY Charlotte, NC Cleveland, OH Ottawa, ON Portland, OR Pittsburgh, PA Salt Lake City, UT

There are many more cities under 1 million currently developing or proposing LRT systems:

http://www.lightrail.com/LRTSystems.htm

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 09:43:11

sorry, I hit the post button before I was done. Lol.

Regardless of the size of other cities, the point is that light rail is currently taking North America by storm.
I'm tired of people who are happy to see Hamilton go nowhere so they have something to complain about always comparing us in a negative light and coming up with excuses why we shouldn't get LRT or we shouldn't get a new stadium or we shouldn't clean up the harbour etc...... Many cities that used to be smaller than Hamilton have surpassed us for a reason. And it's not because they sat on their duffs saying "we can never do this" or "we can never do that".

Hamilton has all the pieces in place, especially along the densely populated B-line corridor to become a city like Portland where delegations visit from abroad to learn from us. I realize some people shudder at that thought. I personally can't wait to see that day.

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By LRT (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 12:44:36

Totally, Jason!
Can you believe Detroit, MOTOWN ITSELF, is developing an LRT route up Woodward Ave. If there's any city worse off than the Hammer, it would be Detroit! And look at them go with their plans (there's also an awesome video demo on the site):
www.woodwardlightrail.com

Imagine... connecting Downtowns to Universities to Neighbourhoods! What a crazy concept!

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 14:17:47

wow...that demo video is one of the best I've ever seen!!
Great to hear that Detroit is considering this. Also incredible to see a stretch with MORE surface parking lots than downtown Hamilton. Wow!

Cities like ours are ripe for LRT development. I hope Detroit builds it.

Thanks for posting the link.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2009 at 14:47:16

Meister:

Before you give us all a history lesson, you should actually read the history. The first wave of mass single-family homeownership in North America were the streetcar suburbs of the early 20th century. These developments supported light rail just fine and are often the best neighbourhoods in North American cities (think of the Annex or Bloor Village in TO).

North America has a rich history of light rail that preceded mandatory motoring. Hamilton has an amazing history of light rail. There are people still alive today who can tell you about taking a streetcar from Dundas to Stoney Creek.

Also, it's not homes that take up the space in car-centric suburbs. It's parking lots, extra wide streets, gas stations, car dealerships, car washes, driveways. A lot of this EXPENSIVE infrastructure also lays idle at night.

When I think of sprawl, I don't think of open space. I think of space that's crowded with cars. And even if the buses are less efficient at night, overall the system is still more efficient than the mass motoring system.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2009 at 14:49:09

By the way, Meister:

I'm a frequent HSR user. Most Hamilton routes are busy for much more than 5 hours a day.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 15:54:46

These developments supported light rail just fine and are often the best neighbourhoods in North American cities (think of the Annex or Bloor Village in TO).

Closer to home, think of Westdale, the first streetcar suburb in Hamilton, one of the first in the country, and still one of the most desirable areas in the city due to its walkability. Obviously not everybody wants to live in car-dependent sprawl, and they are willing to pay a premium to live in these walkable, pre-war suburbs. It's no co-incidence that the housing bubble has hit sprawl areas harder.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2009 at 19:18:24

This is a great site for debate. Lets keep it an open debate. Mr. Meister adds some sensible points which are worth discussing (no, this is not Mr Meisters mother typing). Lets not trash anyone challenges the raise the hammer status quo.

Hamilton will not change overnight. Yes we need more residents downtown, yes we need better and more friendly transport alternatives.

While I like the idea of a LRT with a King-Main split downtown, I am happy to hear any of the other options.

Does an LRT automatically fix the issues discussed here, namely pedestrian friendly and cycle friendly streets? Downtown revitalisation??I am sure it will act as a catalyst, but maybe we need to seperate some of the issues facing Hamilton. I do not think we should wait 10 to 15 years or longer (for LRT, am i realistic here??) for Hamilton to address the current cycle and pedestrian issues. I hope Jason gets a relaxing safe ride to work sooner than that.

For the record, I have 2 cars and cannot wait to find work back in the downtown area so I can walk/cycle/bus and dump one if not both vehicles, with or without the LRT.

Thankyou RTH contributors, even this site is part of the solution.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2009 at 13:42:00

Boston has less than 1 million? The city proper might because they do not amalgamate their urban centres the way we do. But realistically Boston has a population of 4.5 million. Boston proper is 600,000 the same as Hamilton but Boston covers less than 250KM2 and over half of that is water. So they end up with a density of almost 5,000/KM2. The real numbers are more like 4.5 million, 4,500 KM2 a density of almost 1,000/KM2. I just picked Boston because I like it. They have done a terrific job on their downtown. They got people to live there. Lots of loft style apartments and very creative re-inventing themselves.

The numbers repeat themselves with every one of your citys. Sure Oceanside has LRT it is a rail line running to San Diego. It is GO train by a different name. Do you really expect anybody to believe that St. Louis is under a million. Like the rest of your arguments they are wishful thinking and do not stand up to the light of day. I really do not understand why you are so anxious to waste hundreds of millions of tax dollars on an unwarranted rail system. There must be a better use for that much money. How about a new highway around Hamilton? Expand the link to three lanes? Widen Main St. by a couple of lanes to get more traffic flowing through the city? See I can be silly to.

I really believe that you actually see the folly of your arguments and are just to caught up in all to admit the error of your ideas. Why else would anybody try to get me or anybody else to believe that San Jose is less than 1 million. At least you gave me some giggles.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2009 at 13:56:55

Sorry, I meant to add.
I think Detroit a city of 5 or 6 million probably can afford 12 or 13 KM of LRT and it will be great for the city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 17, 2009 at 14:38:49

Again, don't take it up with me. Take it up with the folks who do the census and with the people who provide the population numbers from those cities. Again, I'm not sure what your point is, but it appears as though you're trying to make a case that Hamilton can't support LRT. Instead of taking populations of cities and then adding in every other town and city within several miles to reach your magical one million number, go do some research on transit ridership in cities larger, smaller and similar to Hamilton and compare it with Hamilton's numbers. You'll see cities with much worse numbers that already have LRT or are planning on it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 17, 2009 at 14:57:26

Mr Meister wrote:

I just picked Boston because I like it. They have done a terrific job on their downtown. They got people to live there.

How do you think Boston did such a good job on their downtown? How do you think they got people to live there?

Boston, like every mid-sized North American city, was in serious danger during the postwar period of undergoing an urban exodus that depleted the downtown core of people and investment and left a run-down ghetto in its wake.

Unlike most North American cities, Boston did a few things differently:

  • Community groups organized to block the construction of new urban expressways that were proposed in the 1950s and '60s.

  • Instead of demolishing its 19th century building stock and replacing it with postwar projects, Boston preserved its original architecture.

As a result, most of the city consists of two- and three-storey brownstones, with slightly higher densities in the Back Bay (four-storey mixed use buildings in the Second Empire style of Hausmann's Paris) and the downtown financial district.

  • The city maintained, consolidated and expanded its transit network, a kind of hybrid LRT/subway system that is primarily used by people already inside the city (though some lines also serve to bring people in from the suburbs).

In fact, every city that followed this model - e.g. Boston, New York, San Francisco - preserved its urban integrity and grew in density and vitality while other cities disintegrated.

Since the 1970s, every city that has adopted this model - e.g. Portland, Seattle - has undergone a transformation from the standard doughnut model of sprawling suburbs and a disintegrating core to a denser, more vibrant urban revitalization.

When you write that this model won't work in Hamilton because Hamilton is not like these cities, what you can't seem to see is that Hamilton is not like these cities precisely because they follow an urban development model - the model RTH is promoting - and Hamilton does not.

To the extent that we adopt a similar model of urban revitalization - establishing a firm urban boundary, preserving traditional neighbourhood land use and architecture, improving transit with higher-order light rail, and de-investing in lane capacity and automotive throughput - we will also develop in a manner similar to these cities you claim to like.

Why on earth don't you want your own city to enjoy more of the success of a place like Boston?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 17, 2009 at 18:49:06

Ryan, I'm as perplexed as you. I've met occasional Hamiltonians who actually seem to revel in the state of our city. They'll fork out thousands to fly to Boston, Paris, San Fran and enjoy real city life, and then return home and do everything possible to stand in the way of making changes that will bring some of that prosperity and vibrancy to Hamilton.

Portland was on track to become a mini-LA back in the 70's and their downtown showed it. It was this time period where they stopped and said "hang on. Do we REALLY want our city to look like LA??". The obvious answer was no and it was this change of city priorities that led to the development of their first LRT line.

Boston's entire North End was slated for demolition and look at it today. Hamilton's market square and old York St could have had the same success had we given it the chance.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2009 at 00:16:04

...sense of process

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 18, 2009 at 01:31:00

Jason, Use a little common sense. Did you really think San Jose had a population under 1 million? A lot of what you want needs the same thing. A little common sense. I am sure you mean well but....

I want our city to enjoy success. I just disagree with you about the value of LRT. Just because I am more fiscally responsible does not mean I am anti success. We are not Boston and Boston's solutions cannot be simply transplanted and assume to work. Hamilton is very unique in its geography and that must always be kept in mind.

Our projects need to bear in mind that we are not the urban destination for the entire area. We are half city, half suburb of Toronto. Before we spend hundreds of millions on LRT down King Street how about just a few million to extend GO Trains into Hamilton on a reasonable schedule for a couple of years to see what results that brings.

I am all for a lot of the kind of construction that has happened in some of the cities we have mentioned. I think Hamilton forced some of the buildings downtown to be torn down simply by refusing to listen to reason and refusing to negotiate a reasonable tax rate. The owners simply could not afford to pay the taxes on a vacant unrentable, unsaleable building. Tear it down and turn it into a parking lot was the financially prudent thing to do. The one way streets and the green wave did not cause the downtown to become what it is today. I remember a busy active downtown with the one way streets and the green wave. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Take one lane (south I would think) on York, and make the sidewalks 4 feet wider and put in a bike lane. There is lots of room. One of the worst things Hamilton has done is this mish mash of bike lanes that appear and disappear. Why not a comprehensive network of bike lanes? Sterling Street in Westdale is a classic example: it has bike lanes on both sides from Mac to King and then they abruptly stop.

There is lots that can and should be done that does not include hundreds of millions on LRT.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 18, 2009 at 09:20:04

Meister, you're here blogging on the world wide web, so I assume you know how to use it. Go look up the recent census population stats for San Jose, along with every other city I mentioned. I'm not ignoring the fact that some of those cities have larger suburban areas surrounding them, but you specifically asked for cities under 1 million, so that's what I provided.

Again, as Ryan states, cities like Boston don't become Boston for no reason. Proper planning, transit, livable policies etc.... are what lead to great cities becoming great. Let's do the same in Hamilton instead of trying to make up reasons why we can't.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2009 at 01:12:43

You are comparing apples to pine cones. If you want to compare the population of Hamilton to another city do so on an equitable footing. These LITTLE cities you use as examples are much different than what we have here. If in your reality San Jose is a comparable size to Hamilton them LRT succeeding is a forgone conclusion. Have you ever been to any of the cities you list? Go to San Jose or St. Louis and then tell me (with a straight face) that Hamilton is just as big, just as much an urban destination. I just pray that whoever controls the pursestrings has a better grasp of reality.

You have now joined ranks with A Smith. You are fanatics with no regard for reality. You are using numbers and quoting them without any reasonable proof of cause and effect. My big problem is I work with this reality not some alter universe.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 20, 2009 at 01:31:53

From what I know about San Jose, it's a mid-sized city that's part of the San Fran bay area. So in that respect, it's a lot like Hamilton.

Except that San Jose has a very different class composition and geographical form. It's the epicenter of silicon valley. Most of it's development was in the 70's and 80's. So it lacks Hamilton's advantage of pre-WWII planning.

It also has a lot of white collar workers. That's what makes the new urbanism thrive.

I don't care, meister. If you see yourself as a kind of conservative voice of Hamilton, you're screwed either way. Either the new urbanism is embraced and you'll get swamped with a downtown full of progressives, bohemians and liberal yuppies. Or the new urbanism will not be embraced and Hamilton will continue to contract - socially, economically, and demographically.

In which case, Hamilton will be a haven for ultra-left and anarchist organizing. I picture bikes everywhere, vacant parking lots torn up for gardens, funky DIY tech stuff, militant unions, under-the-table exchange and barter...

(I try to think positive, so I leave Mafia, bikers, crips & bloods out of the picture for now.)

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 20, 2009 at 07:44:04

Meister, I'm not sure where we're missing each other here, but I agree with you that St Louis and Boston are destinations and the heart of larger suburban areas. As I've already stated 3 times, you wanted population of cities under 1 million with LRT and that's what I provided. I'm still waiting to hear why that is so important. I've yet to come across a study that says LRT won't work in cities with 995,000 people, but it will in cities with 1,005,000 people. Hamilton used to be the centre of a region stretching from Brant to Halton to Grimsby and in many respects still is. LRT would put us back in that righful position agian.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 20, 2009 at 08:46:01

Mr Meister wrote:

Just because I am more fiscally responsible does not mean I am anti success.

It is not fiscally responsible to oppose an investment that will pay for itself many times over in new economic development, increased assessment, rising property values, and new employment opportunities.

We are not Boston and Boston's solutions cannot be simply transplanted and assume to work.

It's not just Boston. EVERY city - of any size - that follows a coherent, community based urban revitalization model of development enjoys renewed growth and vibrancy.

You point to the differences between Hamilton and those cities as if it were the reason why that model can't work here - when the fact is that they're different precisely because they follow that model and we don't.

Hamilton is very unique [sic] in its geography and that must always be kept in mind.

This is garden variety exceptionalism, and a tired, lame excuse to avoid making positive changes.

EVERY city has unique geography that local squelchers will insist renders proven economic development strategies inapplicable.

For crying out loud, half of Boston is built on land that was excavated from the original promontory and poured into the bay - and that was during the 1800s.

What a shame that we're so much less ambitious than those 19th century people who had so much less to work with.

There's no reason why Hamilton can't be a successful city in its own right as well as a significant part of the regional economy based around Toronto.

Ultimately, what you advocate is nothing more than dressed-up despair: we may as well continue following the failed policies of yesterday and today because nothing else will be successful either. What a temptingly self-fulfilling assessment!

I suppose you're entitled to your despair, but I refuse to lie down and accept the inevitability of failure - not when so much is at stake and when we have such an unparalleled opportunity to make a real transformative change to the city's prospects.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2009 at 12:43:01

Boston also has "Proposition 2 1/2" which places limits on property tax increases... tiny.cc/VNxIc

This legislation was introduced in 1982 and since that time property tax rates have fallen from over 2% to just over 1%. So yes, let's be more like Boston and place more restrictions on government spending.

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By brk (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2009 at 12:55:41

^ broken record is broken.

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By DevilsAdvocate (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2009 at 17:12:53

Boston's proper planning has led to a transit friendly city? How can this claim be reconciled with Boston's Big Dig? Just because you can't see the urban highway doesn't mean it isn't there...

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 20, 2009 at 18:44:27

I think we're all being a tad parochial about LRT in Hamilton. I always thought it made REGIONAL sense to put mostly REGIONAL infrastructure dollars where they will work best. The provincial government is interested in LRT and for good reason: it's a good technology for cities. Hamilton's relative density and pre-WWII planning provide value that an LRT system can leverage.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 01:10:53

I do not know what came over me. Why would I possibly think that Boston or San Jose are any bigger than Hamilton. It is all true. Therefore I assume that all the people and traffic I saw there were figments of my imagination. Must have been bad mushrooms or something. Imagine anyone thinking that Boston is bigger than Hamilton, I am so embarrassed. Please accept my apologies for even daring to contemplate disagreeing with someone as wise as you. I do not know if I will ever live this down. What if my kids find out that at one time I thought San Jose was considerably bigger than Hamilton. Oh the shame of it all. Please do not ever tell anyone of my delusions.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 24, 2009 at 08:23:42

Mr Meister,

Who are you even replying to? I don't see anyone trying to say that Boston and Hamilton are the same size.

What I tried to argue above is that Boston is denser and more vital than Hamilton because of the different choices it made over the past 30 years:

  • Boston maintained and expanded its electric transit system; whereas Hamilton demolished its electric rail and, later, replaced its trolleybuses. While Boston has always seen fit to regard transit as an investment in a vibrant city, Hamilton cut its transit funding continuously for two decades starting in the mid-1980s.

  • Boston blocked one highway construction and pushing another highway underground (which, despite its extraordinary cost overruns, has breathed new life into the previously isolated North End); whereas Hamilton built a new municipal highway. Incidentally, the Big Dig is already subject to induced demand: http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1155

  • Boston protected its 18th- and 19th-century urban architecture against grandiose plans to demolish it; whereas Hamilton wiped out much of its downtown core for "renewal" mega-projects and sat by while adjacent properties were neglected until they collapsed.

So I'm left scratching my head that you praise Boston yet refuse to consider adapting Boston's successful urbanization strategies here in Hamilton.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 13:23:02

Ryan, if Boston had rail transit for decades prior to Prop 2 1/2, then were property tax rates over 2% as recently as 1985? Furthermore, why did the city's population decline steadily from 1950 to 1980, only to rebound after Prop 2 1/2 was put in place?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 14:20:55

why did the city's population decline steadily from 1950 to 1980, only to rebound after Prop 2 1/2 was put in place?

Why indeed? There is only one solution to this dilemma. It is time to declare mojito season officially open.

Here's the official recipe for the mojitos that Hemingway drank at La Bodeguita del Medio:

Juice from one lime 4 mint leaves 2 oz. Havana Club 2 oz club soda

Now I don't have one of those fancy mudder thingies, so I bruise the mint leaves in my hands before I dump them in the glass. It makes for a nice dramatic flourish and leaves you smelling all minty-fresh. Pop the bruised mint leaves in a highball and sqeeze the lime over them. Hemingway added a teaspoon of powdered sugar at this point which does take the sour edge off a bit, but I tend to omit it because I'm too lazy to rummage in the baking cabinet when I'm fixing a cocktail. Smoosh it around. Add the ice and the rum and stir. Top off with the club soda and a sprig of mint.

Drink your A Smith cares away.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 15:24:39

Hola highwater! Your recipe comes just in time for a balmy Friday night!

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 17:13:35

HA! Balmy eh? I see on Environment Canada's website that it's 25 in London right now and 22 at Hamilton Airport. It's a beautiful 6 here along the harbour shoreline.
I can't find my mitts.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 18:01:32

Highwater, Jason, or Ryan, before you get too inebriated, can you offer an explanation supporting the theory that public rail transit will lead to lower tax rates? In Boston, they have had rail transit for many decades and yet tax rates were over 2% as recently as 1985. How could this have been if rail transit is so effective at stimulating private investment?

Furthermore, only after the politicians were disciplined by a hard cap on spending has the population rebounded, tax rates been cut in half and assessment grown by over 500%. How do you explain this?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 18:36:55

How do you explain this?

Clink clink. Swish. Fizz. Ahhh.

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By Is LRT a big joke? (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 18:57:58

Ryan, Jason are you there? I would love to here your explanation as to why Boston's rail transit was so ineffective at lowering Boston's tax rates, stopping the population exodus and jump starting assessment growth. Do you have any explanation for this?

I sure hope Hamilton doesn't have to impose a hard cap on spending like Boston did, that would be so unfair to the politicians. Please give us something before A Smith makes your theory look more porous than he already has.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 19:03:12

Go read "the Life and Death of Great American Cities".

Cheers

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 19:13:30

Jason, that's a pretty sad defense of YOUR position that LRT will save Hamilton. Think about it some more and give us something a little better than that.

Ryan, your silence is deafening? Your precious LRT theory is under attack and it needs your help. :)

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By Is LRT a big joke? (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 19:24:58

Please, somebody help me, I am going through an existential crisis! I have been led to believe that LRT is Hamilton's best hope to turn this city around and now this A Smith person, with his fancy use of the facts, is making me have doubts. I mean, if Boston had rail for decades, then why did the city have to suffer through high tax rates and massive population losses from 1950 to 1980? That just doesn't make any sense.

Somebody, anybody, please defend our precious LRT dream. It was such a nice fairy tale.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 20:14:26

looks like an exciting night taking shape at the ASmith household. Don't get your login/passwords mixed up.

The beauty of the way Ryan has set up RTH is that all previous content is searchable and even organized in fancy categories like "light rail" "downtown" etc.... There's pretty much everything one needs to know about the effects of LRT on a city on RTH already. I should warn you however, that even in the myriad of pages of LRT articles you're about to read, I don't recall anyone calling it the 'saviour' of Hamilton. As far as it's impact in revitalizing downtown and urban neighbourhoods, along with decent planning practices (ie -no drive thru Hortons along the LRT line) higher densities, and relaxed zoning rules along the corridor, LRT is absolutely the best option to accelerate downtown renewal.

Oh, and I wasn't kidding. Death and Life is a must-read book. You'll be shocked to find out that a lot more is involved in the death and life of cities than whether the tax rate is 1.7% or 1.2%.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted April 24, 2009 at 22:59:58

Jason >> LRT is absolutely the best option to accelerate downtown renewal.

Then why did Boston lose population from 1950 to 1980, suffer tax rates over 2%, even though rail transit had been in their city for decades? If rail is the best way to improve a city, how do you explain it's complete failure in Boston?

Furthermore, why did it take a cap on government spending to reverse the exodus of the city's population, reduce tax rates in half and increase assessments by over 500% since 1985.

>> more is involved in the death and life of cities than whether the tax rate is 1.7% or 1.2%

Your probably right, but what's most important is how each factor affects a city on a relative basis. As the Boston example shows, reducing government spending was FAR more important to the city's renewal than was rail transit. Therefore, while LRT may be a net positive to promoting private investment, which I don't necessarily agree with, it was not nearly as effective as were lower tax rates and increased capital in the hands of the private sector. To argue against this does not recognize the truth of what actually transpired in Boston, or Portland for that matter.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2009 at 15:40:43

Ryan, My last reply was to your alter ego Jason and you or anybody else who believes that the population of Boston is less than a million. If Boston is less than a million and Hamilton is over 600,000 then they are of approximately the same size. If that is true (Jason would not lie on this blogging site would he?) then obviously my previous posts are pure and utter misguided, uninformed, and horrible rubbish.

The same is true of the whole geography issue. Every city must have an escarpment going through it with limited number of roadways funneling traffic downtown. Boston even has the water on one side stopping growth in that direction.

After reading the last few posts I have the perfect solution to all of Hamilton's problems. We will reduce the tax rate to 1% AND build the biggest baddest LRT anyone has ever seen and just sit back and watch the city boom. I keep hearing how those are the solutions to Hamilton's problems.

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