Comment 105486

By jimbob88 (registered) | Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:35:01

LRT’s Unintended Consequences

The previous four notes have covered the LRT topics of: the false assessment increase claims, the lack of transparency in the alleged business case, the dangers in the fine print and the misleading claims about lower LRT operating costs. This note will cover just two of the unintended consequences of the Hamilton LRT proposal if it were ever to be implemented.

But first a little context about the Main/King one-way pair is needed. Today, the only complete lower city cross-city route is the Main/ King one way pair. A Burlington Street connection to the 403 was once envisioned (in the ‘70s) but this was (thankfully) abandoned as it would have significantly impacted the north-end neighbourhoods. The nearest current alternative express cross-city routes are the Skyway or up the escarpment to the Linc, but both of these are way out of any practical range.

So the Main/King one-way pair with the inherent higher capacities of one-way operation, synchronized signals and fewer intersection turning conflicts currently performs the dual roles of acting as the only continuous cross-city connection and also providing arterial access to and from all lower city businesses. The important Main/Victoria/King/Wellington “square” provides a major connection to the Hamilton Mountain. Disturbing these relationships would have serious unintended consequences.

The final LRT plan [1] includes the reversion of Main and King to two way operation and the elimination of two of the four general purpose lanes of King Street in order to accommodate an exclusive LRT right of way.

From the Report: “The degree of control of the crossing of the reserved transit lanes will be fully restricted except at signalized intersections in protected phases, with no exceptions”. [2]

The consequences are that all travel across the two centre LRT lanes would be prohibited and that all left turn movements and cross-street movements at driveways, or intersections (except signalized) would be prohibited. Attempts to mitigate the problems that these restrictions would cause, would include allowing “U Turns” at signalized intersections in order to provide access to properties or destinations on the opposite side of the street. However, this would not be possible for the 6.6 km section of King Street from the Delta to Paradise Road. “U Turns” could not be allowed due the absence of any room for U turn (or left turn) storage lanes.

Or put another way, if one is proceeding westbound on King past the Delta, the next left turn opportunity is Paradise Road, 6.6 km away. The same is true in the opposite direction from Paradise Road to the Delta on the proposed two-way King Street. The “response” will be to make three right turns instead, which we all know is totally impractical.

From the Report: “In the sections with a road allowance of 20m or less, local traffic lanes would be provided adjacent to the curb but stopping, loading, or parking would not be permitted in those lanes” [3].

Due to insufficient room to accommodate LRT as well as two general purpose lanes in each direction, there would be no stopping on both the north and south sides of King Street from the Delta to Paradise Road with the exception of the very few existing loading bays. It is not known what would be planned for the existing two lane section between Wellington and Catherine as the functional planning report did not address this problem at all. The functional planning report is incomplete as it does not include functional plans for the section of King Street between the Delta and Wellington and no lane details on the section between Wellington and Catherine. No wonder.

All commercial and private loading and unloading would be expected to take place on the side streets or possibly between 2 am and 5 am when the LRT would not be running, notwithstanding that the removal of all parking and operating-hours access that is considered to be vital to the survival of many of the adjacent businesses would be gone.

Unless 90% or more of the customers of King Street businesses between the Delta and Paradise Road come from the adjacent residential neighbourhoods or businesses as “walk-ins”, these businesses should seriously be considering month-to-month lease extensions and contingency plans.

Does the Chamber know about this?

The irony is that with the reversion to two way operation and major losses of traffic signal progression (it’s all about math) an LRT vehicle would take longer to travel the length of King Street than a transit vehicle does today. This includes an allowance for the touted LRT “traffic signal pre-emption” that is easily proved to be ineffective under Hamilton’s conditions (Portland is different).

The other irony is that LRT, touted as being a stimulus for business growth and development would have the exact opposite effect.

But these kind of details are absent from the PowerPoint presentation that may have been used to inform others and the functional report is only one of many key reports and documents that are no longer on the Hamilton LRT website.

It is unfortunate that when Hamilton was originally laid out, the major street rights-of-way were not set at 40 meters or more - but they were not. “It is what it is” and more practical and affordable solutions need to be explored.

[1] LRT Functional Planning Analysis B – Line Corridor MRC Consultants April 2009 [2] ibid Page 7 Section 4.3.2 Para 1 [3] ibid Page 7 Section 4.3.2 Para 2

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