Hamilton’s acting director of transportation operations says this week’s reconfiguring of Main Street will target excessive speed and sideswipe collisions that have historically happened on the thoroughfare in recent years.
Mike Field says reducing lanes, prohibiting right turns on red, more pedestrian countdown signals, and stop light changes allowing pedestrians to get a head start on cars are just a few things drivers will have to get used to the week ahead.
“We’re also putting in a designated bus-only lane on the south side … in proximity to McNab Street,” Field told Global News.
“Along with this is including a transit priority signal … which allows busses to move and clear out bustling before any of the other traffic gets to move through the intersection.”
The bulk of the work on Main will primarily take place during overnight hours. The reduction to four lanes from five between Dundurn Street and Sherman Avenue is the most significant part of the plan.
The restriping of the roadway is the first of the initiatives approved by city councillors in early July to strengthen the city’s road safety approach, which has seen 15 traffic-related fatalities so far in 2022 — with nine involving pedestrians.
The reconfiguration will see pedestrian buffers on the south side of the road, designated left-hand turn lanes at a number of intersections and the opening up of additional on-street parking at the north side, including overnight parking in some locations.
City data to date suggests the average speed of a vehicle driving on Main is 70 kilometres per hour, Field says. Main Street has a posted speed limit of just 50 km/h.
The 2021 annual collision report revealed that about 20.5 per cent of all collisions in the city were categorized as sideswipes.
Field says Main has “overrepresented” those sideswipe collisions in the last year.
“That issue doesn’t exist on every other roadway within the city, so it’s kind of an indication of the existing configuration of both Main Street and King Street, which all these countermeasures are looking to help address,” Field explained.
Main will eventually become a two-way street as part of the city’s preparations for the incoming light rail transit line development.
Field says city staff will report to public works on the cost and timing of that initiative in the first part of 2023.
The current plan calls for the roadway to be split between Longwood in the west to King Street in the east.
Safety improvements on both Main and King began on Monday with the bulk of the work taking place during overnight hours.
Crews are expected to complete the scheduled changes by Saturday.