Councillors got an idea Monday of how a redesign of Hamilton streets to strengthen road safety will be compatible with the forthcoming construction of the city’s light-rail transit (LRT).
City staffers told a subcommittee that questions will need to be answered on some of the initiatives to make streets safer and to what degree the 14-kilometre, 17-stop LRT plan will complement those plans during and after construction.
Mike Field, acting director of transportation operations, used the impending conversion of Main Street from a one-way thoroughfare to a two-way street as an example of a safety initiative that could be a positive during construction.
He suggested the move to two-way could alleviate traffic impacts that ultimately will occur on the parallel King Street, set to be reduced to a single lane near the International Village amid construction of the transit line.
“The intent is that partial conversion would happen prior to or just during construction to obviously help out with dealing with traffic concerns,” Field told councillors.
Field said that a report through the city’s chief road official will come back in quarter one of 2023 with details on the implementation of the Main Street conversion, including the timing.
The redevelopment of the street is part of city-wide lane, parking and traffic signal modifications to stem recent setbacks in the city’s commitment to the Vision Zero program, which has a goal of zero injuries and zero deaths on Hamilton roads.
So far in 2022, the city has reached a 10-year high in fatal pedestrian collisions with 11 since the beginning of January.
“We’ll also investigate improvements to the level of service within and outside of the LRT corridor and to take advantage of the major construction,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh, told councillors that the procurement process for construction of the LRT is set for the end of this year with major construction set for sometime in 2024.
Aside from the Main Street conversion, other approved road safety initiatives like the transport truck ban in downtown, alteration of street guide lines, and additional cycling infrastructure, will also require more dialogue with Metrolinx in finalizing an LRT route design.
“We are currently working with Metrolinx (and) the timeline is not known yet,” Shaikh said. “But (from) what we understand, since they will be in a procurement process for one year, we have enough time to discuss these design changes with them at length.”
Councillors also approved a motion Monday for staff to report back on how the design changes are being managed when the sub-committee meets again on Sept. 26.
Ward 5 councillor Russ Powers told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton he suspects the new road safety designs are “probably going to put a little bit of a wrinkle” into LRT planning.
He suggests the procurement process may be put off a little longer than Shaikh explained due to public works and Metrolinx having to incorporate the city’s wishes into a rail design.
“Hey, nothing in a project of this magnitude goes a couple of days or a couple of weeks,” said Powers.
“It’s probably a few months.”