Politics - Federal

Hamilton Squanders Stimulus on Roadwork

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 28, 2009

Talk about vision: of the top ten priorities the City of Hamilton has established for its share of stimulus cash, seven are roadwork.

One is an extension of Trinity Church Rd, which just happens to run right past the Summit Park housing development, and the other six are maintenance of existing roads, including the Linc.

This is not limited to Hamilton: the federal rules for spending this money are geared to quick, low-risk projects that stay inside the comfort zones of cities long accustomed to funneling their energy into roads.

While other countries are investing their stimulus money into forward-compatible infrastructure that will pay ongoing dividends in cleaner air, lower energy consumption and urban development, Canada remains stuck in the retrograde mindset of patching up yesterday's road network.

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 Frank (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:00:36

While 7 might be road related, they don't specify what the "repairs" will be AND they account for 34.5 of the just over 100 million dollars. I think in the interest of fairness, the breakdown should go like this:

1) Water treatment upgrades - $42 million 2) Extending Trinity Church Road - $10.5 million 3) New EMS training and op centre - $25 million 4) First Place renovations - $5 million 5) Road repairs - $24.5 million

What's more interesting is the councillors who are complaining about local road repairs being at the bottom of the list. I'd also like to see the 150 item list that is mentioned...

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 13:28:49

Frank, why not order those 1,3,5,2,4?

If we embraced the fair, user-pay aspect of conservatism, then roads could be funded exclusively through gas tax and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

What's more 'OMG, look at that!' is standing at the entrance to Summit park and soaking in all your sprawling grandeur. Let's see, you could go for a walk within the subdivision, or within the subdivision, or across Rymal to see eramosa karst, or see eramosa karst, or see even more eramosa karst!

which is nice, but the other destinations accessible by foot are...???

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By BS (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 16:05:26

So who's wallets is this stimulating, exactly? The already overpaid City workers? They already had jobs going around fixing roads!

Why not help stimulate business that has been forced to cut jobs, so some of these unemployed -I think I read Hamilton's E.I. needs jumped 82% last month- can get their jobs back and start spending again!?!?

Again, this IS only 10 of the 150 projects, and I'd like to see the other 140, but still.

Trinity Church Rd Ext!?!?! So they're going to use this money to expropriate family homes just so that commuters can get to their new subdivision quicker? Altho I'm sure the City thinks we're stupid, as this 'Extension' is clearly just a hidden form of a RHVP Extension to the proposed Mid-Pen Hwy!

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By Steeltown (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 18:06:05

The full list can be found from this link....

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

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 18:12:05

I may be a little cynical here, but doesn't any provincial or federal funding come with strings......the photo op.

What better photo opportunity than a new road!! Those guys love it.

Certainly a little different than what New-York are spending money on (see todays article by Jason).

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 18:34:28

BS, I never even thought of that. Trinity Church as the connection to the Mid Pen. Very interesting thought. Keep an eye open for more Mid Pen stuff coming down the pipe this summer.

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By Anonymous (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2009 at 22:14:37

Yes, Trinity Church right from the Linc/Red Hill through the Mountain and North Glanbrook industrial parks (the EA has been complete for some time now) with a future connection to the Niagara to GTA corridor (formerly the Mid Pen). It's not a surprise, the proposed road connection went through the EA process a couple of years ago to facilitate the development of the industrial parks. There even is a proposed round-about at Rymal!

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By BS (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 07:34:10

Yes, Jason. If you look at a satelite image of that area on Google Maps, it's quite clear that it was planned to connect up to the Mid-Pen.

I have a feeling once the extension reaches Rymal, it will move east from -what will be known as- Old Trinity Church Rd so that it can be converted into an expressway once the Mid-Pen opens.

If there's any road that needs extending, it's Burlington St along the CN lines to the 403 via the Junction (aka the Perimeter Road). This would be a good excuse for 2-way conversion as it would ease the flow of traffic along the other ramps (York, Main & Main West) and would give the Main Street Expy lovers an alternative to a slower, two-way Main.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 08:14:43

That's a great idea BS, Burlington St. already looks like an expressway anyway and extending it would definitely take the pressure off the other routes, especially if the city were to convert Main to 2 ways.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 08:35:21

I'm not a fan of the perimeter road at all. You can still see the land that was expropriated by the city along Strachan, just north of the CN tracks. Thankfully, it's being turned into a greenway, with a cycling/walking path that will link north end neighbourhoods, the General Hospital, Jackie Washington Park to Bayfront Park. A freeway through there would have devastating effects on the neighbourhood. Not to mention, cities like Boston and Portland that cut off neighbourhoods or downtowns from their waterfronts with freeways have since spent billions to get rid of those roads and bring back the greenspace/waterfront access.

Toronto keeps saying it wants to, but never will. We should be thankful that we didn't go down that ill-fated road in the 50's and 60's. Our North End and Harbourfront neighbourhoods are some of the most urban,scenic neighbourhoods in southern Ontario. Plus, we saved ourselves the hundreds of millions in construction, and then demolition of a highway.

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By BS (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 08:55:48

To be fair, Jason, the north end is already seperated by the CN tracks (and several bridges). There is more than enough room in that depression (where the CN lines are currently) to build a Burlignton St Extension, perhaps connecting to the 403 in a below-grade fashion around the junction as to not disturb the canal or the waterfront trail.

I'm sure this extension wouldn't disconnect the north-end from Downtown anymore than it already is, again, due to the tracks. In fact, I'm quite sure the benefits of two-way Main (and possibly King), along with the A-Line in the North End area would far outweigh any loss of a park that runs right beside train tracks.

Also, it would be a benefit to having a stadium right along it's route, so the suburban "no easy highway access" claim could be dismissed.

I live downtown, frequent the north end (well, Bayfront Parks) and I don't see this as a problem so much as a solution to the two-way conversion squelchers. It's all about give-and-take; everyone wins!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:19:28

everyone wins!

Except the poor schlubs in the North End who never catch a break anyway, so no harm done!

Seriously though, I cannot believe anyone is suggesting an inner city expressway at the dawn of the 21st century. We've known for at least 4 decades the devastating effects they have on neighbourhoods. For the love of God, drop this horrendous idea.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:26:23

Dufferin Construction Stimulus Package

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:56:43

We already have a north end perimeter road: the QEW. With RHVP, the Linc and Hwy 403, that makes a complete ring highway that encircles the city.

As we were promised repeatedly during the Red Hill debate, a ring perimeter highway system is supposed to spur new economic development on highway accessible employment lands and get the big rigs off city streets.

I'm sure that'll kick in any day now.

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By BS (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:47:48

No No, Ryan.
You see, the RHVP was only Phase 1... the City forgot to mention that when they started building it.
Phase 2 is the Trinity Church Rd Extension, then
Phase 3 is the Mid-Pen Highway, THEN
Phase 4 is more housing (that's houses, not condo buildings or mix-use of any sort)
THEN business might be attracted to the area!

See, you have to look at the whole picture... then, and only then, will everything make sense (ok ok, it really makes no sense... but did we forget which City we call home!?)

I still don't understand why so many people would be against a below-grade Burlington St Extension (NOT a Linc or RHVP'esq Expy) when it would clearly be the only way THIS City would convert Main & King to two-way... at least at this point in time. I'd rather see two-way Main/King by 2015 than by 2030 when people with true vision and concern for Hamilton come into power.

Keep Nicholas Kevlahan's Transportation Summit article in mind; although the City has all the right ideas, they're still practising their old habits and will continue to do so for years and years and years. So although they like two-way Main/King IN THEORY, they're scared away from the idea due to their obsession with keeping traffic moving? ...A Burlington Street Extension as the best option.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 12:01:56

Great discussion so far. A couple of more points from me:

  1. We do have a ring road now. Pull out a map of the city and it's easy to spot - 403/QEW/Red Hill/Linc.
  2. The plan for perimeter road was always to run it along Strachan. unless they were to widen the below-grade area near the tracks, there's no way a highway would fit there. Regardless, we don't need it. Our entire ring system can be driven in about 25 minutes. There is absolutely no reason that any trucks heading to the NE part of the city need to use Main, King or York. If they're coming from Guelph, they can use the Skyway/Burlington St/Red Hill. If they're coming from Toronto, same thing. If they're coming from Buffalo, Red Hill/Burlington St If they're coming from Detroit, Linc/Red Hill. If they're coming from Nanticoke, Linc/Red Hill.

It's so asinine that we spend all this money on these roads, yet still allow trucks to fly down city streets like Cannon, York, King and Main. These are supposed to be vibrant, commercial/residential city streets. We have the truck freeways now. Get them to start using them!

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 12:19:37

I notice far less through truck traffic on Centennial now. I wish the same could be said for your downtown streets.

Steeltown I'm looking for the full 150 item list.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 12:21:39

Next we need to circle the airport with highways.

Jeez since we built that airport highway access from the 403 we've been trying to fight off the businesses that want to locate here.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 12:23:41

BS, it's not someone's wallet it's the economy it's supposed to stimulate... As for the Mid-Pen highway, while existing administrations might want it, I think you'll find that it's no where near real planning stages. I also don't think it'll happen because as far as I can tell, public pressure is mounting against it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 29, 2009 at 13:53:18

Off we go, taking a big leak just like Peter George warned us not to. So predictable.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted May 01, 2009 at 09:24:28

huh?

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By BS (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2009 at 13:14:19

Frank, how are We supposed to stimulate the economy (ie shop, buy condos, Vespas, etc) if the Government doesn't stimulate our wallets by creating jobs for us (well those who lost their jobs)? That's what I meant by "stimulating our wallets".

And Jason is making reference to a quote by McMaster University President, and local Grump, Peter George who suggested a couple months ago that the City use Stimulus Package dollars properly rather than "pissing it away on sewers and pot holes" ...or something along those lines.

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