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Hamilton’s Main Street to move from five to four lanes

The city has already implemented a series of traffic calming measures along King St. and Main St., including live lane reductions, bumpouts and turning restrictions. Global News

One of Hamilton’s major thoroughfares is set to undergo several changes this summer after city councillors approved ‘short-term’ changes on Main Street, including moving from five to four lanes.

The redevelopment is part of a larger scope of initiatives along Main and King Streets in hope of strengthening the city’s road safety approach, which has been setback by several pedestrian fatalities since the beginning of 2022.

Wednesday’s approval puts into motion enhancements to create as much separation between vehicles and pedestrians as possible, including parking modifications, changes to traffic signals, and lane modifications.

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It also sets the stage for the eventual splitting of the roadway with lanes going in two directions, which is in line with city’s upcoming LRT development.

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Prior to the committee approval, Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton that the motion would be ‘fundamentally driven’ by obligations to the Vision Zero program which appears to be far from the city’s pledge for zero injuries and zero deaths.

“We’ve had people harmed and killed because they’ve been struck by drivers at rates that are absolutely alarming through this pandemic,” said Nann.

“Every time I think about these reports in this manual, in the motions that we passed, I think about the people whose lives have been impacted or lost.”

Changes to Main Street are expected to be supported by targeted education campaigns informing residents of alterations like no right turns on red, new pedestrian intervals, and community safety zones.

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City councillors approved the plan during a session to discuss modifications to the Complete Streets Design Manual, a template that governs how streets are designed in Hamilton with needs of road users of all ages that walk, cycle, take transit, drive, or deliver goods.

Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson says the manual gives direction via citizen advocacy to make the city more sustainable and livable in general.

“I think it also gives neighbourhoods an opportunity to participate and see the possibility of what can go on in their neighbourhood,” Wilson told Global News.

“So, it becomes that active lens through which we have an obligation to act and I would say we have an opportunity to make our city more livable.”

Discussion over the manual came following the 2021 annual collision report in which acting director of transportation operations Mike Field revealed a decline in crash statistics over the past two years amid the pandemic.

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Hamilton had 6,812 reported collisions in 2021, according to the report, a significant drop from the 9,896 reported in 2019.

Injuries reported also saw a drop to 1,161 in 2021 down from the close to 1,500 reported two years ago.

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However, fatalities were up in 2021 to 16, three more from 2020 and two more than 2019.

There were 9 pedestrian fatalities in 2021, the highest number between 2017 and 2021.

Lane modifications

One of the most significant changes to Main Street will involve a move from five lanes of traffic to just four lanes between Dundurn and Sherman Avenue by the end of August.

In that same time period, drivers will see lane restrictions at signalized intersections in the form of designated turn lanes and the installation of temporary bump outs or curb extensions to provide protection for parking along the north side of Main.

The intersection of MacNab and Main will see exclusive space for transit vehicles with the possibility of a transit queue jump lane. The latter is being reviewed for potential implementation by city staff.

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Pedestrian crossings

The city’s first Pedestrian Priority Phase (PPP), also known as a ‘pedestrian scramble,’ will debut on Main at Summers Lane by the end of 2022.

The traffic signal adjustment will temporarily stop all vehicular traffic, allowing pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally at the same time.

Ladder crossing markings will be employed at all intersections with signals on Main and those with stop controlled side streets.

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Main Street is undergoing the road marking process as of July, while King Street will see work in this area completed by the end of 2022.

New pedestrian signals are excepted at Main and Hilda Avenue as well as Main and Melrose Avenue in 2023.

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Speed management

Locations for both automated speed enforcement (ASE) and dynamic speed signs – signs that contain a radar device and an LED display – will be assessed by city crews for multiple Main Street locations in the months ahead.

New community safety zones supplemented with ASE are targeted for Main between Dundurn and Queen as well as Gage Avenue and Delta Park.

Proposed zones on King Street would be between Dundurn and Locke, Emerald Street to Wellington and Lottridge to Gage.

Councillors with Public Works Committee will meet to further discuss options on August 10th.

Signal modifications

Pedestrians will get more time to cross Main and King streets when walk lights are adjusted from 1 metre per second to 1.2 metres per second.

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The change will begin at some locations in July with all crossings converted by the end of August.

Pedestrian “countdown” signals (PCS) will also be installed where they don’t exist with priority given to locations that have low collision performance data. Work at the latter locations is expected to be completed by September with with the rest installed by the end of 2022.

Still awaiting council approval is a ‘no right turn on red’ stipulation earmarked for a majority of Main and King intersections that have signals.

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Vehicles turning right onto one of the major arterials or turning right off the roadway will be affected.

A bylaw for the restriction on Main is set to go before council on July 8 with King expected to be voted on August 12th. Implementation would commence upon approval of the bylaws.

Parking modifications

The addition of street parking on Main Street is also one of the new safety initiatives that has expectations of reducing moving vehicles on the thoroughfare.

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Parking will soon be an option during morning and afternoon rush hours on Main, while a through-street designation will allow for overnight parking near residential blocks.

Other parking changes include :

  • Removing paid parking meters while retaining a two-hour time limit between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. with 12 hour parking an possibility from 9: p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Two hour paid parking on the north side by city hall with no stopping on the south side to assist with HSR routes and short duration loading and drop offs
  • Two hour paid parking on the north and south side at Gage Park

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