By Jason Leach
Published May 14, 2009
Recently, Ryan McGreal posted a blog entry outlining a consultant report that recommends converting Main St. and King St. to two-way and putting LRT down the middle of King St. through the downtown. The report is available from the city's rapid transit office [PDF link] but has not been endorsed by either staff or the public works commitee.
According to the rapid transit office, staff will not make a recommendation until after Metrolinx staff present the Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) on the B-Line to the Metrolinx Board. That is due to take place in July.
In past blog entries, I have spoken in favour of a one-way LRT system, not because I love one-way streets, but because I was concerned about the overall affects a two-way system may have on street calming, street parking and livability issues on both King and Main.
However, like an NFL referee, I have stepped underneath the black hood and reviewed the plan in an attempt to devise some solutions to my problems and am now stepping back onto the field to reverse my call.
As we all know, two-way streets downtown is a dream of mine. Properly done, like on James North, they can aid the businesses community in creating vibrant districts that are welcoming to people.
My biggest concern with the proposed two-way LRT plan is the complete removal of street parking from Dundurn to Eastgate along Main and King. I realize Hamilton is completely geared around the automobile, and that needs to change, but I also recognize the value of some curbside parking as both a convenience for businesses and a buffer for sidewalk pedestrians.
In reviewing the functional planning analysis, I have concluded that street parking could be included on the south curb of Main Street from just west of Dundurn all the way to Sherman Avenue, for the most part.
Furthermore, street parking can be accommodated on King Street from John to Bay and again from Queen to Dundurn on the north curb lane.
This is a tremendous number of parking spaces, and along with adding more street parking on intersecting streets such as Bay, Queen, Catharine, Wellington and so on, we can see the best of both worlds accomplished with a convenient, stimulating two-way LRT on King Street.
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