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Feds, Ontario set to announce details of Hamilton LRT

An artists rendering of Hamilton's LRT project. The federal and provincial governments have offered $3.4 billion to build the 14 kilometre line. Metrolinx

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Tuesday the federal government will invest over $12 billion in public transit projects in Ontario, including a rapid-transit development in Hamilton.

The PM says the rapid-transit line in Hamilton will go from McMaster University, through downtown, to Eastgate in Stoney Creek.

A formal announcement is set for Thursday and is a continuation of the largest single announcement of transit funding in Canada’s history made on Tuesday.

Read more: Hamilton LRT a part of Ontario’s pitch for federal transit funding

Trudeau said money will also go toward four subway projects in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Ontario Line in Toronto will encompass a system from Exhibition Place, through downtown, to the Ontario Science Centre.

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Meanwhile, the Eglinton Crosstown West extension will be a rapid transit line along Eglinton Avenue between Scarborough and Mississauga.

The third and fourth transit projects are the Yonge Street North subway extension and the Scarborough subway extension.

Ottawa and Queens Park will spend a combined $3.4 billion of funding for Hamilton’s forthcoming transit project, with each portion totalling $1.7 Billion.

A Hamilton light rapid transit (LRT) project was one of projects the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) confirmed it submitted through the Investing In Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Transit Program along with the four Toronto based subway and LRT projects.

 

The MTO’s decision to apply for funding of a Hamilton LRT was based on a technical analysis from the Hamilton Transportation Task Force recommendations which resurrected the LRT possibility when suggesting it was the best option for spending $1 billion of funding from the province.

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The proposal from the province asked for $1.5 billion from the federal government to cover the cost of building an estimated $2.5 billion LRT to run from McMaster University in the west to Gage Avenue in the east.

“We’ve determined that the best way to deliver an LRT option, which is we think optimal for the city of Hamilton, is to do that with a federal partner,” transportation minister Caroline Mulroney told Global News in February.

Read more: Feds invest over $10B to help Ontario fund 4 major transit routes in Toronto

Ontario cancelled Hamilton’s 17-stop LRT in December 2019 claiming that the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne was not upfront about the true cost of the project.

A third-party analysis from Turner and Townsend in late 2019 pegged the project at an estimated cost of $5.5 billion — a price that Mulroney said the province simply “couldn’t afford.”

The decision was later backed up by the province’s auditor general (AG) Bonnie Lysyk, who said her office looked through numbers between 2016 and 2018 and found estimates “did not represent” the full cost of the LRT and suggested the numbers were “significantly understated.”

Read more: Who will pay life-cycle costs for Hamilton’s LRT ‘to be determined’ says LiUNA exec

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So far, Metrolinx has spent about $162 million on the Hamilton LRT project. Much of that related to the purchase of properties that the agency is still holding onto.

Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure, Catherine McKenna, told Global News in September that Ottawa was “committed to funding good public transit projects” and recognized the potential Hamilton LRT project as the “most shovel-ready” with local support.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said he welcomed the Ford government’s commitment to building Hamilton’s LRT.

“We have now rebounded from a cancelled project in December 2019 to a provincial priority project,” said Eisenberger told Global News in February.

“However, for the LRT project to break ground, it would require federal participation. Based on that, we are cautiously optimistic.”

 

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