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Over $500 million from 3 governments earmarked for Hamilton’s public transit infrastructure

Hamilton transit director speaks Maureen Cosyn Heath at the Mountain Transit Centre on Upper James Street with others from the city, province and federal government revealing a $500-million transit investment. City of Hamilton

Hamilton’s public transit system is set to get a $500-million boost from three levels of government, which are set to splash cash to add buses, a new maintenance and storage facility, technology and infrastructure replacement.

The funding from Ottawa, Queen’s Park and the city is in addition to the $3.4 billion coming to fund a light rapid transit (LRT) system for the city.

Of seven projects tied to the half-billion in infrastructure funding, the big-ticket item will be a $264-million, 60,000-square-metre (645,000-square-foot) transit maintenance and storage facility, which will have the ability to store 200 buses and provide a maintenance area for 30 vehicles.

Read more: Council ratifies plan to move forward with Hamilton LRT

Over $114 million will also be spent on the replacement of conventional buses in the current Hamilton fleet, including the procurement of 92 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

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Another $73 million is earmarked for bus expansion, with 85 additional CNG vehicles allowing for an estimated 300,000 hours of additional service to the city by 2026, in accordance with a 10-year city transit strategy.

About $40 million is also to be spent on the replacement of the Birch Avenue Bridge, and cash will go to improve signal priority and queue jump lanes on 16 kilometres of the A Line to speed up service.

MP and Hamilton native Catherine McKenna revealed that the federal government will make the largest contribution of the three governments, about $201.8 million, through its Investing in Canada infrastructure program.

Ontario’s contribution will be over $168 million and Hamilton will take on about $148.8 million for its part.

“I really appreciate the ambition here that we need to connect Hamiltonians to,” McKenna said during a press conference at the Mountain transit centre on Upper James Street on Monday.

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“From the lower city to the Mountain, from the waterfront to the airport, we need good transit across the board, and that is exactly what we are investing in.”

Stan Cho, associate minister of transportation (MTO), said the projects are a big part of Premier Doug Ford’s vision to connect “the grid” across Ontario but also a vision to connect Hamiltonians with jobs after the struggles of many with employment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s important to also think about economic development and job creation, because that’s what it’s about,” Cho said.

Read more: GIC vote to accept $3.4B offered for Hamilton LRT, council votes next week

Hamilton’s manager of transit planning and infrastructure Jason VanderHeide says procurement will begin quickly on development of the storage facility and that the city is hoping to get into the construction phase by early next year.

He went on to say that the facility, as it’s designed, will offer future outfitting for electrification.

Meanwhile, Mayor Fred Eisenberger says a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Hamilton’s LRT is in the hands of the province at the moment and he’s hoping to get it before council in early August.

“If it isn’t August, I hope it’s early September that we can get the MOU back on the table, hopefully approved, and keep moving forward on the LRT project,” Eisenberger said.

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