Light Rail

Consultant Report: Two-Way LRT on King and Converting Main, King to Two-Way Traffic

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 30, 2009

this blog entry has been updated

In a recent consultant's report titled "LRT Functional Planning Analysis: B-Line Corridor" [PDF], IBI Consulting has narrowed the long list of possible LRT configurations to two:

In the latter option, the LRT line would be two-way down its entire length. It would run on Main Street from its western terminus at University Plaza to Paradise Rd in West Hamilton, where it would cut north to King Street and cross Hwy 403. From there it would continue on King St. until King swings south and crosses Main St between Gage and Ottaw St. It would then continue along Main St. to its eastern terminus at Eastgate Square.

LRT Preferred Route: two-way conversion of Main and King with two-way LRT down the median of King through the downtown.
LRT Preferred Route: two-way conversion of Main and King with two-way LRT down the median of King through the downtown.

Contraflow LRT was eliminated for safety reasons. LRT in mixed lanes was eliminated because it loses the benefit of rapid transit and reliability. Curbside two-way LRT was eliminated because of the awkwardness for vehicles to cross transit lines onto interior driving lanes.

Of the two remaining options, the staff report recommends the two-way median reserved option. It cites the following advantages:

The report also notes that overall vehicular traffic on Main-King will need to be reduced by 30-40 percent, through demand management and alternative routing.

Update: The city rapid transit office has clarified that neither staff nor the public works committee has endorsed this consultant's recommendation. It is currently a working paper available on the city website [PDF].

The office indicated that they will not be making a recommendation to the public works committee until after Metrolinx releases its Business Case Analysis (BCA) on the B-Line, due this July. Metrolinx is studying whether the line should have Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT) based on a full benefits analyis, which includes business, environmental and social factors.

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 jason (registered) | Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:34:02

I just finished slowly going through this entire report over the past couple weeks, and I'm certainly finding myself leaning more towards the side of this two-way option.
This of course, is in contrast to my recent blog entries suggesting that one-way might be the preferred option. I'm still not sold on either option, but I can see some huge reasons to support this two-way option. 1. Traffic reductions 2. Ease of use for LRT riders 3. Proper, two-way street design as opposed to one-way. 4. Far less crossing of the LRT tracks by having them in the centre of the roadway.

Although it would appear as though this set-up could fit better with the LRT on Main instead of King, I think the LRT should be on King. It's more street-oriented and has greater potential for vibrant streetlife and business than Main.

However, I'm not sold on the idea of virtually no street parking along the entire length of both streets. If the LRT were down the centre of Main, street parking could still exist along King. Having said that, I'd take the LRT on King over Main even if it means losing parking.

I worry that Main st might just start functioning like one of the 'uppers' on the Mountain. Would developers feel demand to put more parking lots with new developments on these streets if there was no street parking?? We certainly don't want more lots along an LRT route.

Furthermore, what will happen to the stretch of King in the International Village??

Lots of questions, but I do find myself leaning towards this two-way scenario now that I have read more info on the subject.

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By hunter (anonymous) | Posted April 30, 2009 at 14:21:42

i'm suprised. i thought 2-way lrt would have worked better on the wider and straighter main. but if there is more development potential on king then so be it.

just making each street 2-way will make so much difference for the better.

the construction period will out of necessity give hamilton lots of time to figure out alternate routes.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 30, 2009 at 16:51:15

Lol...absolutely. I bet the Spec is salivating over the headlines they can roll out during that construction project. haha. If they can't increase readership then, they never will.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted April 30, 2009 at 18:51:52

I couldn't read the map. Can somebody tell me where it goes west of the 403?

Are the bike lanes on the bridge on King St being preserved? If so, they need to think about how bikes will connect from there to downtown. If not, they should make Main St. a bike route with two-way lanes.

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By ventrems (registered) | Posted May 05, 2009 at 22:11:16

Why isn't this thing going through Mac campus? The Main/King buses are rammed with students everyday because McMaster is the #1 destination West of downtown. There must be an RT stop inside Mac campus. You won't be able to build a big enough bus shelter to accomodate everyone at the McMaster entrance on Main St.

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