Hamilton councillor defends parkway billboard deal amid criticism over safety

Digital billboards going up on 12 city owned sites in Hamilton.
Digital billboards going up on 12 city owned sites in Hamilton. 900 CHML

At least one Hamilton councillor is defending the decision to allow digital billboards on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (Linc).

Outfront Media has an agreement with the city to set up 12 of the billboards, three of which would be located along the Linc. The deal is expected to generate half a million dollars a year in revenue.

Central mountain councillor Donna Skelly said she sees the new signs and safety as separate issues.

“We see them on the Gardiner (Expressway) … we see them on highways right across the country, and I don’t think our problem on the Red Hill and the Linc is necessarily this sign that could be a distraction,” she told The Bill Kelly Show on Monday.

READ MORE: Cat’s eyes and rumble strips on the way, but no timeline for median barriers on Red Hill Valley Parkway

Skelly noted there are a number of regulations in place aimed at safety, including the location and illumination of the billboards.

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Sarah Warry-Poljanski said the signs are “huge” and a distraction to drivers.

“If you’re going to be driving at night … it’s going to catch your attention and there’s going to be glare,” she said. “It bugs me because people are fighting for safety measures and being denied those.”

Along with the families of crash victims, she has been calling for the installation of median barriers along the Linc and the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP).

LISTEN: Donna Skelly joins The Bill Kelly Show

There have been six fatal crashes on the roadways that involved vehicles crossing over the median, according to a recent report to Hamilton City Council.

Martin White, the city’s manager of traffic operations, said last month that the estimated cost of installing centre barriers is $5 million to $7 million, adding that would be a “lost cost” if done ahead of an expected widening of the RHVP in the future.

He said there is no evidence that barriers would reduce the overall number of collisions, and disputed the perception that the RHVP and Linc are more dangerous than comparable highways.

READ MORE: City report supports push for photo radar on Red Hill Valley Parkway

Other safety enhancements are on the way for both busy parkways, however. Rumble strips and “cat’s eyes” pavement markings will be installed along the full 18 kilometres as resurfacing work is done over the next several years.

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Members of Hamilton’s public works committee were told last month that work on the RHVP is expected to start this year and finish in 2019. The Linc will be resurfaced in 2020-2021.

With files from Ken Mann and Kerri Breen, 900 CHML