Sports

Can RHVP/Linc Handle Ticat Traffic?

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 14, 2010

For the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a major selling point of the East Mountain location for a Pan Am Stadium is its proximity to the Red Hill Valley Parkway / Lincoln Alexander Parkway. The argument is that a highway-accessible stadium will be easier for fans from the greater Hamilton region to reach by car.

Unfortunately, does not seem likely that the RHVP/Linc actually has the capacity to accommodate all the automobile traffic that a game would generate, given that no reasonable alternatives exist to driving at that location.

If we assume attendance of 20,000 to a typical Ticat game and an average vehicle occupancy of 1.3 people per vehicle, a game will generate 16,667 vehicle trips.

Those vehicles can approach an East Mountain stadium from the north via the RHVP or from the west via the Linc. Both are divided, four-lane highways with two lanes in each direction.

If we keep it simple and assume the traffic will be split evenly among the two routes, that's 8,333 vehicles per route.

Here's where it gets troublesome: as I understand it, the maximum per-direction capacity on a four-lane, divided highway under optimal conditions is a little less than 3,500 vehicles per hour - and conditions on the RHVP are less than optimal, given the parkway's grade and curvature.

That means it would take well over two hours for traffic to make its way into the stadium, followed by the same duration to get back out. Even this assumes the parkways are exclusively dedicated to Ticat fans with no other traffic.

Since the location and design on the East Mountain preclude either alternative travel modes or local amenities in which to pass the time, that means a grueling congestion crunch both before and after every game for those fans dedicated enough to brave the gridlock.

So much for the "driveway-to-driveway experience".

The West Harbour location also suffers limited vehicle access, but has the significant compensating benefits of a diverse set of multi-modal options - walking, cycling, transit, GO Train, and driving - not to mention a lively downtown full of amenities in which to wait out the rush.

Note: I Am Not A Traffic Engineer (IANATE). If any traffic engineers are reading this and I've missed something obvious, please let me know in the comments.

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.

22 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Don't forget about the ramp (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 16:10:47

Don't forget that the traffic has to exit the highway and make it in to the parking lot so you'd have to look at the narrowest point. If the traffic is exiting the highway to the same ramp then the four lanes would go down to one or two and you'd probably only be getting 1000 cars through each lane per hour under optimal conditions. Transit wouldn't seem to be any better because it would be vying for the same lanes in the suburban super blocks surrounding the stadium and be stuck in the same congestion.

From the cities websiste the IBI study assumed 2.6 people per vehicle under a normal event so, to be fair, the vehicle count should be 7,692.

The other item I haven't seen much consideration given is around the cost of parking. So, assuming that 7,692 people would be driving and parking and using figures obtained from the first site listed from googling "how much does a parking lot cost per space?"
means that...
a surface parking lot for 7,692 spaces at $4,000/space would cost: $30,768,000.
an above ground structure for 7,692 spaces at $20,000/space would cost: $153,840,000.
I will save the agony of listing what a below ground structure would cost.

Not sure what it would cost to maintain such a large area of parking by I think it wouldn't be so cheap!?!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Highwater (registered) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 17:16:20

If I recall correctly, Young only wanted parking for 6,000 vehicles, so the cost of the parking lot would be a steal at $24,000,000. So much for the $15m.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JonC (registered) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 17:39:37

Hopefully it doesn't rain.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Greg Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 18:07:11

Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Coliseum at Richfield built between Akron and Cleveland with great highway access.
This arena pre-dated the new Quicken Loans Arena, which was built downtown.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coliseum_at_Richfield

Another interesting piece popped up in the Star yesterday and today regarding the Portlands rink complex. Good to see it is possible to correct a mistake.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/835412--hume-new-rink-proposal-makes-all-the-right-moves
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/835536--portlands-arena-two-visions-one-preference

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2010 at 22:31:53

Ugh. This is exactly the kind of stuff which makes me hate the economics of car culture. Creating a situation where people must drive (or have a friend who does) to take part in these kind of things just makes everything vastly more expensive for everyone.

For this stadium to be successful, people will have to come. Are they going to run charter buses downtown for 20 000 people? Or a light rail line and at what cost? If they go for green "permeable surfaced" parking lots, what will that add to the price?

Downtown sites would work much better because we have a networked street pattern. Overflow can be handled easily, and because there are so many mathematically possible routes in a grid like this, parking and transportaion will undoubtedly be easier, even if everyone does drive.

There are a lot of people in this city without access to cars. Creating a situation where only people with cars can go see a Ti-Cats game is a slap in the face to working class Hamiltonians.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JM (registered) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 22:46:28

Here's a term I'm surprised no one has brought up yet considering the whole topic of transit and car access..... who says the entire trip needs to be in one mode of transport! Just like how many people catch the GO or subway in TO to catch a leaf or jays game........ You won't get stuck in the parking lot, and then you can still drive home.

"Park 'n' Ride"

Simple....

JM

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Rex Banner (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2010 at 23:51:38

Think of it as a public safety measure: The overpriced beer buzz will have worn off by the time you clear the parking lot.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 02:10:26

To anyone who uses the Linc it is obvious that it is already at capacity. The traffic during the day is bumper to bumper and quite often never moves at more than 60 kph.

I read somewhere a few years ago that it was built to handle 50k cars a day and had reached that capacity only a few years after being built. I am sure the city has the numbers if anyone wants to check it out.

If you drive the road you will also see alot of out of towners now using it as a shortcut to the QEW Niagara. I always see American plates on cars using the road.

If the stadium were to be built on the East Mountain I can just imagine the mess with the additional traffic trying to exit onto 2 lane country roads to get to the stadium. It would be gridlock for a couple of hours before and after every event.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By skully2001 (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 07:51:23

Like I said on another thread, I can actually see the Ticats drawing fewer fans, esp. once it becomes obvious what a major pain in the ass it is to even get there...I'm certainly not going.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 08:42:02

From the cities website the IBI study assumed 2.6 people per vehicle under a normal event so, to be fair, the vehicle count should be 7,692.

Thanks for pointing this out, Don't forget. On further reading, I see that the AVO of 2.6 seems to be the accepted number for driving to special sporting events.

I'm going to contact the city and ask for an official position on the carrying capacity of the RHVL/Linc and the effect of the off-ramp bottleneck.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:23:39

A couple of points for consideration:

First off, traffic to games will be taking place typically at current non-peak traffic times. While the Linc may have heavy traffic during weekday rush hours, weekend and holiday traffic is extremely light.

RHVP is designed for daily traffic capacity of more than 90,000 (about 4,000 cars per hour). Capacity for the Lincoln Alexander Parkway is similar.

Given the generally accepted AVO of 2.6 passengers/car a 20,000 crowd would generate just over 7600 cars under the assumption that 100% will arrive by personal vehicles (it is safe to say the amount will be lower as there will no doubt be some level of GO Transit and/or HSR shuttle service on game days). Most of those cars will arrive via the parkways, but 10-15% of the car trips likely would be arriving by other feeder roads (Mud Street, Stone Church, Hwy20, Rymal Road).

Given that I would assume that, while pushing capacity on game days, generally speaking the existing infrastructure would be able to handle the traffic. Granted, some tweaking of the Mud/Stonec Church on/off ramps would likely need to be done.

Having said that, the same scrutiny will need to be placed on West Harbour. Does the road infrastructure in the West Harbour have the capacity to handle a similar amount of vehicular traffic? While existing and future public transit could have the potential capacity to deliver 4000 to the games, that leaves 16,000 arriving by car (if we are still working with average 20,000 attendance). Do Barton and Bay Streets have a combined hourly capacity of 6,000 cars?

I understand city staff are instructed to deliver a detailed traffic analysis by August 10. It will be interesting to see what their findings will indicate.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JM (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 12:34:36

"Do Barton and Bay Streets have a combined hourly capacity of 6,000 cars?"

Barton and Bay wont see 6,000 cars.... those cars would be spread out throughout the downtown and won't have to funnel through one tiny little offramp. What Bay and Barton do have is the capacity to handle a flood of pedestrians as it would be the easiest and fastest route out of the stadium area.... Just like Balsam and Beechwood after the game. You can try all you want to drive through that. Oh yea, and what about the flood of people walking through a massive parking lot? Cars are going to have to wait for them anyways - so it really won't be any easier/faster to drive out of the EM stadium. Remember that....

On the parking lot topic, here's a GREAT comparison..... has anyone ever left Canada's Wonderland right when the park closes at 10:00pm?! They have DIRECT access to Hwy 400 (and a couple exits to Jane, Major Mac, Rutherford i think). It takes almost an hour to get out of that lot! I know its not the same amount of cars were talking, but its the same concept!

JM

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 12:59:14

@realitycheck

Remember what the city of Hamilton looks like on Canada Day - an estimated 25,000 people come down to Bayfront Park to watch the fireworks. While the traffic is bad, mobs of Hamiltonians get in and out just fine because they _walk_ there or take the busses.

On the other hand, Canada Day is on July 1st, which is nice weather for walking.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 16:07:24

"The West Harbour location also suffers limited vehicle access, but has the significant compensating benefits of a diverse set of multi-modal options - walking, cycling, transit, GO Train, and driving - not to mention a lively downtown full of amenities in which to wait out the rush."

Ryan, there is nothing stopping people from walking, cycling, and taking transit to an east mountain stadium site. As for GO Transit. I have been going to Cat games for years and nobody takes the GO Train to Cats games.

I think that having the stadium at East mountain is a good compromise which will allow the city to plan for more appropriate uses at west harbour, such as a combo of residential/commercial/parkland.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 16:10:03

Ryan, there is nothing stopping people from walking, cycling, and taking transit to an east mountain stadium site.

Other than the fact that it's impossible.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mark (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 23:43:30

Wasn't there talk of utilizing an old rail line for the LRT? That would help in transit.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 16, 2010 at 07:00:14

How the economics of an LRT line works is that the line itself catalyzes dense new infill investments along the transit-oriented development (TOD) corridor, usually ~400 m on either side, with density (and property values) getting higher as you approach each station.

The problem with the rail trail line running up to the East Mountain is that after crossing Wentworth Street and the Charlton Avenue extension to the Sherman Access, it runs all along the escarpment through a green belt and then skates next to the King's Forest Golf Course, before finally passing through Mohawk Sports Park and terminating at the Lincoln Alexander Parkway where it connects to Dartnall Road.

In other words, there is exactly zero potential for transit-oriented development along the rail line.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 14:10:05

Ryan, LRT may not be a good fit along the rail trail, but regional GO Transit service would be an excellent fit. The existing Hamilton GO service to Hunter GO Station could be extended to a station at Dartnall and Stone Church, where there would be excellent potential for transit-oriented development around a natural multi-modal transit node at that location.

Of course, if the rail trail was left as is, it would provide a direct-access cycling route from downtown to the stadium site. Either way, it offers an alternative mode of arrival to the potential site.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 14:26:53

Ryan wrote "How the economics of an LRT line works is that the line itself catalyzes dense new infill investments along the transit-oriented development (TOD) corridor, usually ~400 m on either side, with density (and property values) getting higher as you approach each station."

I know this is a bit off-topic, but shouldn't this read that the development is usually in a 400m radius of stations along the corridor? I don't think it is the corridor itself that attracts development, but the access points along the corridor (i.e. stations).

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 15:13:14

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.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By red24 (registered) | Posted July 19, 2010 at 08:35:35

@realitycheck

"First off, traffic to games will be taking place typically at current non-peak traffic times. While the Linc may have heavy traffic during weekday rush hours, weekend and holiday traffic is extremely light."

Generally, at least half of home games occur on weeknight evenings (Thurs and Friday). The Linc is not the only issue, so is the RHVP, the QEW from Oakville and Burlington and the QEW Niagara, all of which are extremely slow at rush hour. To my mind this makes this site unattractive.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 17:50:40

Excellent discussion. As I read somewhere else the East Mountain will be a "bumper to bumper" experience, not a "driveway to driveway" experience. Are there any traffic professors at Mohawk or another college who could review these numbers?

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds