Property acquisitions continue ahead of Hamilton LRT construction

Hamilton's LRT will run 14 kilometres between McMaster University and Eastgate Square.
Hamilton's LRT will run 14 kilometres between McMaster University and Eastgate Square. CHML

City Councillors have received an update on the status of Hamilton’s light rail transit (LRT) project.

Project Director Kris Jacobson says Metrolinx has bought two-thirds of the 90 full properties needed to build the 14 kilometre line from Eastgate Square to McMaster University, along the King-Main corridor.

READ MORE: Hamilton LRT contract now likely to be awarded in late 2020

He expects to demolition of buildings on those properties, many of which are boarded up, to start in the spring of 2020.

Jacobson says negotiations continue in regards to roughly 30 other full properties that are needed. So far, he says, “all purchases have been on a willing seller, willing buyer basis” indicating that the city has not yet resorted to expropriation.

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READ MORE: Hamilton’s mayor gets the LRT assurances he was seeking in meeting with transportation minister

Three consortiums that have been chosen to bid for construction of Hamilton LRT are putting the finishing touches on their proposals.

Jacobson expects the contract will be awarded next fall, after which the successful bidder will need about six months for design work prior to beginning construction. Work on the line should be “starting in 2021, hopefully spring, summer.”

Click to play video 'GO Transit dealing with higher-than-expected fare evasion' GO Transit dealing with higher-than-expected fare evasion
GO Transit dealing with higher-than-expected fare evasion – May 9, 2019

The report, presented during a meeting at city hall on Wednesday, also shows that Metrolinx has spent $162 million on the project, to date, much of that relating to the purchase of properties.

READ MORE: Hamilton LRT takes another step forward

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The current provincial government has said it will not pay more than the original $1 billion promised in 2015, but there’s optimism that the federal government would come to the table in the event of cost overruns.

Liberal MP and cabinet minister Catherine McKenna has indicated that her government would consider such a request, following past meetings with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.