Special Report: Light Rail

Clark Wrongly Claims LRT Plan Lacks Detailed Design Work

This is one of the most studied and pre-designed, pre-consulted projects in the city's history!

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published July 10, 2014

Someone needs to call Councillor (and Mayoral contender) Brad Clark on his recent comments to Andrew Dreschel:

Clark, a former Tory transportation minister, says the city has a conceptual plan but has not done detailed design work.

"We have not had an adult conversation about where the tracks are going; we have not had an adult conversation with folks in terms of the impact of those tracks, what the costs are going to be, who's underwriting the infrastructure construction along the route, the purchase of property that will occur there."

That is just flat-out wrong.

The 30 percent engineering design that has already been done is sufficient to tender the contract.

It includes the alignment that was thoroughly discussed and agreed at both Council and through the biggest public engagement exercise in the city's history, and the property purchase required has already been determined.

Planned B-Line alignment through Gore Park
Planned B-Line alignment through Gore Park

Clark doesn't even mention the class environmental assessment and land use study that was done as part of the city's work.

He should not get away with spouting claims that just aren't true, especially since should know exactly what has been done and where the project is.

This is one of the most studied and pre-designed, pre-consulted projects in the city's history!

Does Clark expect a 100 percent engineering design before deigning to concede that the project is feasible? Which adults does Clark imagine haven't had the conversation yet? Is he somehow trying to imply that Council and the general public in Hamilton - let alone staff and the consulting engineers - are not adults?

It seems he is just playing the stadium gambit all over again: constantly returning to question longstanding, well-supported council decisions in order to confuse the facts, undermine confidence and wear down the project until it falls apart.

Why is Clark, like Mayor Bob Bratina, so eager to make excuses for the Province not to invest $800 million in Hamilton? Why isn't he fighting hard with the province to ensure they make this investment here in Hamilton, instead of Toronto, Brampton or Mississauga?

Is he running for the Mayor of Hamilton or Toronto?

Finally, where were all these expressions of concern when Hamilton and the province spent $75 million on a single highway interchange at Clappison's corners [PDF - see Table 1, page 4] to support sprawl development?

That $75 million would have paid for around 10 percent of the LRT line and equipment.

I don't recall any "adult conversations" or constant second-guessing about that project. There was no general public consultation at all - certainly nothing like the unprecedented public engagement that has accompanied the city's rapid transit planning since the feasibility study began in 2008.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

22 Comments

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 07:12:03

"When it comes to transit funding tools, including the high-occupancy toll lanes the Liberals have been promising to pilot since 2013, Del Duca is vague. He said he won’t discuss in isolation any aspect of the government’s funding plan."

thestar.com/news/gta/2014/07/10/ontarios_new_transportation_minister_focused_on_construction_not_more_plans.html

My sense from all the messaging that has been broadcast by Wynne and Del Duca's predecessor is that regional transit, specifically all-day GO trains, network-wide is the key action item.

July 3's Throne Speech:

"Your government brought forward... a plan that builds better public transit in congested cities and better roads to connect towns with rural and remote communities... The second part of your government's economic plan for Ontario is a historic investment in modern infrastructure, particularly in transit and transportation. Your government will spend more than $130 billion on public infrastructure over the next decade -- on new hospitals, schools, undergraduate campuses, safer roads, better public transit and all-day, two-way GO Regional Express Rail -- all to support sustainable economic growth across Ontario....To firmly seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity and build a seamless, provincewide transportation network, your government will work with municipalities, local governments, transit agencies, citizens and experts. Your government will also engage the federal government as a partner in supporting its transit strategy and those of the other provinces."

news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2014/07/building-ontario-up-speech-from-the-throne.html

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 07:18:48 in reply to Comment 103196

Despite that unscientific hunch, it seems clear that the province is still fuzzy on the funding issue, which has been a central hindrance to council's enthusiastic buy-in. Rapid Ready suffers as a result.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 07:35:54

I don't think that Mr. Clark is going to win the election, so we'll be done with him come October. At least in the municipal sense.

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By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted July 13, 2014 at 16:50:58 in reply to Comment 103198

Here's hoping!

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By Jamiekw (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 07:51:18

Sometimes people like Clark need to say absurd things so they won't get elected.

Mission accomplished.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 09:45:26

I don't understand. Why is Clark pretending the Rapid Ready report doesn't exist? He could disagree with its assessments and explain why, he could enumerate some problems with it if there are any, but he takes the route of outright pretending it doesn't exist and that preliminary work was never done? This site is certainly calling him out on it, is no other media in Hamilton doing so? You can just say whatever, even if patently false?

Meanwhile little things like this are great to hear. Street life will get better for some people in some places at least.

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By blah (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 15:24:37

Because Clark is a tool, that's why.

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 22:01:39

Hamilton's Rob Ford.

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By walnut (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2014 at 22:24:50

only problem with the current plan is cutting off King to traffic between Wellington and Mary. Get rid of the downtown sign and bumpouts and allow through traffic and it's perfect.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted July 15, 2014 at 00:13:28 in reply to Comment 103204

King is not going to be cut off to traffic. Pedestrian traffic and bicycle traffic will still have access. It is just car traffic. And it is important to denetwork car traffic to encourage mode shift to walking, cycling and public transit.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2014 at 14:03:17 in reply to Comment 103204

they can easily have the LRT tracks shared with cars through this 4 block stretch. Many other cities do this. Convert Main to two-way, as was recommended by the transit report and car traffic no longer needs to barrel through downtown on King.

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By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2014 at 09:56:29

A 14k LRT line will cost $16 million a year to run. If the Provincial governments was going to pay the capital costs, they would have said so clearly. They haven't done that. The bad news will be delivered shortly, IMHO. The B-Line express can be improved, as it has the same amount of stops. The real problem is getting all the mountain and suburban Councillors on board, as they will not likely use it. Lots of issues remain unsolved, like where will maintenance and storage be done, what properties will need to be expropriated? Who will pay for replacing all the infrastructure presently under the road bed, to make way for the LRT foundations? Too many questions, not enough answers.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted July 13, 2014 at 13:42:36 in reply to Comment 103206

The B-Line express can be improved

LRT or BRT are the improvements. The way you get service that is better than 4 bus routes including an express route is to build higher order transit.

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By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2014 at 12:13:21

I agree with Jamiekw "Sometimes people like Clark need to say absurd things so they won't get elected." I see the same with Brian McHattie, this guy continuously says and does things that just doesn't make sense for Hamilton.


Mission accomplished.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted July 13, 2014 at 13:09:37 in reply to Comment 103207

Fortunately, this is an election year. So, rather than call a Mayoral candidate a 'tool', or 'Hamilton's Rob Ford', everyone will have a chance to ask questions, ask the questions that they feel need to be asked, and get answers that they're satisfied with.

Because if we don't pin down candidates, if we don't demand clarity but instead stand in the corner muttering our grievances, then we have about as much cred as those who use the aforementioned pejoratives in response to what amount to sound-bites.

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By blah (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2014 at 08:12:26 in reply to Comment 103208

The reason why I'm calling him a tool is because he ought to know better as all the information he claims we need is already in the Rapid Ready report, etc. Again, because he's a tool is why he is acting like a fool.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2014 at 12:32:11

Nicholas Kevlahan "The 30 percent engineering design that has already been done is sufficient to tender the contract" WHAT? That's the type of thing that causes real problems with any construction project. If you ask for tenders without the engineering completed you will fail. There will be many, many cost over runs if you do that. $800 million will be the start, the end will cost double or triple if you go with 30%.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 25, 2014 at 07:33:36 in reply to Comment 103227

No one is asking for tenders on that basis... Yet. We are a ways from that. I'd share the concern if that was the case, but it is a mild one.

Comment edited by Tybalt on 2014-07-25 07:34:53

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By JOEY (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2014 at 15:11:26

If not fully engineered you might end up with another incident like this "A construction crew working on the site of the future James Street North GO Station accidentally dumped a truckload of concrete into a trunk sewer on Friday."

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2014 at 16:34:06 in reply to Comment 103233

Because 30% design work when asking for funding commitments is exactly the same as 30% design work when starting construction. Right.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted July 16, 2014 at 09:57:16

I'm not sure that a construction contract can be tendered based on 30% design. In my admittedly limited experience, there is a 60% and 100% design stage both of which require extensive work and review, and once the 100% design is approved, the contract is released to tender. I can't put a timeline to that but we couldn't begin construction tomorrow.

Clark's "adult conversation" is a slap in the face to the thousands who have participated in the rapid transit process up to this point. Members of the public and staff alike. Ultimately it is just electioneering but very insulting.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 23, 2014 at 09:53:41 in reply to Comment 103245

I was on the Rapid Transit Citizens Advisory Committee, and we were told by staff and the consulting engineers that the 30% design was sufficient to tender the contract, although maybe the tendering process is staged, or maybe they meant that it was enough to fully cost the project.

In any case, it was the maximum that the province wanted before deciding whether or not to go ahead with the project. In other words, nothing more than the 30% design would be done before deciding the project would actually be built.

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