Transportation

Downtown BIA on Two-Way Street Conversion

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 24, 2012

Last week, I interviewed Kathy Drewitt, executive director of the Downtown Hamilton BIA, to ask whether the BIA has a position on the two-way conversion of Main, King and Cannon Streets.

Drewitt noted that the Downtown BIA does not have a formal position on two-way conversion of Main, King and Cannon. However, she said that whenever asked about this, she cites the survey of businesses on James and John North one and a half months after the those streets were converted to two-way in 2002.

Drewitt said, "Many of them told me they experienced an increase in sales, they hired more staff, and that's a positive. We see the conversion of James and John as a positive where people slow down and the traffic can help to support the businesses located there."

She also expressed frustration that the City continues to allow Main and Cannon to function as through trucking routes, now that there is a continuous ring highway around the city. The Downtown BIA lobbied to have Main taken off the Truck route last year, but Council rejected their plea.

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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus and HuffPost. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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By surveys then & now (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2012 at 14:24:15

..."survey of businesses on James and John North one and a half months after the those streets were converted to two-way in 2002." One and a half months--and nothing since? I'm half surprised, but real pleased though, that they haven't followed the usually reactionary so-called "Chamber of Commerce": & whose commerce is that, again? The ones who want aertrpolith and fought hard for the Red Hill expwy and an ex-mayor & others?

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By Quetzalcoatl Logicl (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2012 at 15:09:45

My guess is that the Downtown BIA lobbied for Main & Cannon to get taken off the trucking routes knowing that it's a good bargaining position -- Cannon is at the edge of their jurisdiction, so my guess is that they care more about change on Main.

Cannon is an orphan ta the moment. IMHO, James North's resistance to the idea of a BIA is arguably impeding its ability to lobby for the change that the neighbourhood so clearly craves.

As far as surveys go, if you're doing anything meatier than the infinitely game-able Survey Monkey and its ilk (ie. if you want your findings to have more value than as entertainment), you're into funding and staffing considerations. And that alone might have prevented a proper follow-up.

That said, the window for findings was early enough to have nominal value. They should have committed to a series of follow-ups, maybe every 4 years, which keeps pace with election cycles and the water-torture pace of urban redevelopment in Hamilton.

Had they done so, we'd have a much more interesting picture. As it stands, this is like a MySpace headshot.

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By nothanks (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2012 at 17:21:36

The majority don't want the BIA and do not want it speaking on our behalf. I have heard there is a group starting up made of many nghbhd assoc, residents, businesses and others hoping to lobby the city on two-way conversion.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 24, 2012 at 20:10:19

Of all BIA's to have no leadership or vision...no wonder the area around the Gore looks like it does. These guys should be screaming and pounding their fists louder than anyone for change...especially having seen the effects on James.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 09:58:17

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 26, 2012 at 23:02:15 in reply to Comment 77278

Is that you Mr Foxcroft?

Whoever you are, get over the obsession with blasting an expressway through the West Harbour.

BTW, when was the last time anybody had to stop or even slow down on any Hamilton road?

Main is 5 lanes. Cannon and King are 4. The Claremont Access is 6 lanes! Has anybody ever seen more than a couple cars on that road?? Cootes Drive is a divided 4 lane highway. Really??

We've got enough lane capacity for a city twice our size...Sao Paulo would be jealous.

Let's move on and stop talking about this nonsense please.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:06:28 in reply to Comment 77278

We don't need less traffic on Main/King/Cannon. Traffic levels are plenty low to switch to two-way with no problem. Note Main being 2 lanes over the 403 right now...no probs. Past 2 years King was 2 lanes over the 403 and at Pearl...no probs.

Furthermore, we do have a ring highway system...403/QEW/Red Hill/Linc. What more do we need?? PLUS, we have Burlington St, which is a de-facto freeway. As I mentioned in a previous article, I can get from my home at Locke and King to the QEW/Burlington St interchange in 10 minutes. If I use Main, it takes at least twice that long...sometimes 3x. The only way for Hamilton's cross-town routes to get any faster is to start using hovercraft.

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By George (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:50:45 in reply to Comment 77281

Yup, I use Burlington St. often to go east-west. Ever since the RHVP opened, Burlington st expressway has become easier and more convenient as it links to the RHVP and LINC.

That route is faster and easier than going through the timed lights of Main and King streets.

There is no longer any need for Main and King to be expressways.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:09:26 in reply to Comment 77293

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:34:26 in reply to Comment 77296

the same way you get to the Gardiner Expressway from Yonge and Dundas. You drive there.
Last time I checked, it wasn't the right of every human being to have a freeway ramp in front of their house, and in front of every destination they might go to.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:42:38 in reply to Comment 77299

I take the Lakeshore rather than fight with the Gardiner to Jamison when I'm going to the Ex but that has little to do with the question I asked

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By ringer (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:19:06 in reply to Comment 77296

You can drive there on a two way street, and you don't have to go so fast that you ruin the homes and stores on the streets you drive on.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:14:51 in reply to Comment 77281

Main to Victoria to Burlington to QEW. 10 minutes. I can see that. Locke to King to 403 to QEW to Burlington St. Not so much

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:35:33 in reply to Comment 77282

I actually do York to James or Victoria to Burlington to QEW. The 403/QEW over the Skyway is just under 15 minutes.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:40:23 in reply to Comment 77300

So you agree its way quicker to go through town?

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:22:41 in reply to Comment 77282

Home Depot on Centenial via Main 19 minutes 11.8 km
Home Depot on Centenial via Burlington St 21 minutes 13.7 km
Home Depot on Centenial via 403 22 minutes 24 km

Via Google Maps. So if you can do it in 10 minutes its obviously even faster than google suggests via Burlington Street

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:37:28 in reply to Comment 77283

Based on my experiences with my GPS, Google Maps travel times are never accurate. They had my trip to Florida taking 2 hours longer than the GPS. The GPS nailed every leg, every time. Even if I'm off by 2 or 3 minutes, the point is, its quick easy and simple to get across town without using Main...faster, in fact to use Burlington St, even with Main functioning as a freeway.

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By George (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:52:49 in reply to Comment 77283

So for the sake of 2 minutes we do not need the damaging affects of Main/King expressway given the alternatives you provided.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:59:54 in reply to Comment 77294

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:57:02 in reply to Comment 77283

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By ringer (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 10:51:46 in reply to Comment 77278

A ring highway goes AROUND the city not through it. We do have a ring highway that goes right around the city- QEW, RHVP, Linc, 403.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:04:45

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:40:12 in reply to Comment 77280

Better tell that to the RHVP proponents who kept telling us we had to build it to 'complete the ring' and get all those trucks off our city streets.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:39:06 in reply to Comment 77285

we knew they were lying then...and still will today.
People in Vancouver probably howl reading this discussion. We have a true ring highway. They have zero highways. Yet none of us could afford to live there...apparently the economy hasn't tanked because of the absence of a ring freeway. Who knew?

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By ringer (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:48:56 in reply to Comment 77285

and we all know how well that turned out. You'd think the chamber types would be the first ones saying it's time to go two way now that they've got their ring highway.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:59:46 in reply to Comment 77286

Trucking companies, warehouses, and heavy industry are on the Chamber as well. Those folks are quite happy with our urban highways.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:55:22 in reply to Comment 77286

As someone who uses the eastern leg of the Main King corridor and Centennial Pkwy I can tell you honestly that it has helped a lot, particularly along Centennial

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By ringer (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:37:52 in reply to Comment 77280

Duh, a ring highway IS a detour, you're going around the city not through it. That's the WHOLE POINT.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 11:53:04 in reply to Comment 77284

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By ringer (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:22:27 in reply to Comment 77287

"the point is to get to the destination faster and cheaper" Clearly that's what you care about but some people care more about making streets safe and pedestrian friendly. That won't "harm local residents" any more than changing james/john to two way harmed local residents as the haters warned at the time. If this means an extra few minutes for someone to drive around the city ON OUR RING HIGHWAY instead of through it that's a fair trade. We SHOULD take city streets off the truck route. That way local trucks will still be allowed to go where they need but trucks just driving through the city will have to go around.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:45:57 in reply to Comment 77290

James and John were never the only North South artery, in fact they were actually designed not to be that. Wellington and Victoria were designed to be the north south arteries. The RHVP and Linc were built to relieve traffic on the Wellington-Victoria/Upper James access and get truck traffic an alternate. It has worked but an east/west link to the west end is still ellusive

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 12:41:22

You can't address either ideal in a vaccuum. Thats whats happening now with Main being the speedway it is but trying to change that without addressing the other side of the equation only ensures the status quo will be defended more vigourously against even policy that has little or no impact. Call it human nature if you like. To completely ignore legitimate concerns and label them as false will only cause a complete failure to reach a suitable outcome for all parties no matter who is doing it

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 13:42:08 in reply to Comment 77291

everyone understands the concern, and have presented suitable outcomes. Use the QUICKER, SHORTER route of Burlington St instead of Main St to get across town. Everyone wins. People who want to drive fast can do so, and those who want business to return to downtown streets can have that too. There's only person in this discussion not willing to acknowledge the clear evidence of a great alternative already being in place. As I said last week, I would take Main to the east end if it was quicker. It's not...even as a freeway.

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By Route (anonymous) | Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:54:43 in reply to Comment 77305

Jason,

Where is this trip to the "east end" starting and ending? I'm curious how your trip is faster using Burlington St because that is counter to my experiences.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 14:27:27

I agree but the question is still how to get to the Burlington Street option. Surely we can discuss how that can be accomplished while still addressing the legitimate complaints of Main West being unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike. Logical alternatives are needed if traffic is diverted from this stretch especially for those that live and work in central Hamilton. If Main becomes too slow traffic simply shifts to York/Wilson and Aberdeen. That may be good for Main but what about York/Wilson. If we make York/Wilson too slow afterwards doesn't the traffic simply turn down James to get to Burlington? One thing for sure is that traffic won't simply disappear or re-route to the 403/QEW. It will find a way through even if the detour is complex and even if local advocacy groups try to discourage it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 14:53:42 in reply to Comment 77308

Main won't become too slow. More than half it's lanes are gone right now at the 403 and it still flies along. And nobody is talking about losing lanes. There are 4 eastbound and 4 westbound lanes on Main and Cannon. I'm simply suggesting we re-distribute them equally so there are 2 each way on both streets. Like virtually every other street in the country. If anything, traffic will improve because people won't need to loop around and cut through neighbourhoods etc.... If the speeds drop by a few minutes through town, no probs. That will actually start to resemble a more normal drive through a city.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 15:02:14 in reply to Comment 77316

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 21:17:23 in reply to Comment 77320

Imagine if all these streets were two-way. When there is construction on one, viola, you drive on the other one...the way all the two-way opponents do on the Mountain and their suburban communities. Doubling the options for drivers is actually a pretty handy thing.

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By no to no contiuous (sic) ring (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 15:05:25 in reply to Comment 77320

You mean slow like in a normal core of an urban metropolis. Or slow like on a congested highway slow?

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 15:13:58 in reply to Comment 77321

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 15:15:29 in reply to Comment 77323

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 15:12:33

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 25, 2012 at 21:15:23 in reply to Comment 77322

This must be Bill Kelly or John Dolbec... "abandon their cars"?? Really? We're talking about leaving 4 lanes of CAR traffic in each direction...just split evenly on two streets, instead of on one-ways. Nobody here has even brought up the lack of any connecting bike lanes in Hamilton, skinny sidewalks that barely fit two people and a horrendous built environment from a pedestrian perspective - trees, benches, soft landscaping etc.... I dream of a day where we lose 1 lane on each of these streets for 2-way bike lanes, but I'm not an idiot. This is Hamilton. As you've just proven, converting a street to normal, North American-standard, two-way traffic brings out all sorts of hysteria about 'abandoning cars' and 'war on cars' etc.....

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