Main Street’s two-way conversion in Hamilton expected to slow 403 traffic

Hamilton's study period on the conversion of Main Street to two-way traffic will continue over the next few weeks with a final design targeted to be in front of councillors for a potential sign off in the summer. Google Maps

The impending conversion of Main Street in Hamilton, Ont., will not only be a tool to safely slow traffic from Highway 403 but a “relief valve” when construction of the city’s light rail transit (LRT) begins, according to the director of transportation.

Changes to Main between Dundurn Street and the Delta are expected to happen in 2024 following a council decision last year responding to a slew of pedestrian deaths along the busy thoroughfare.

“Once (the LRT is) under construction, there’s going to be less opportunity for westbound movements on King Street,” the city’s Mike Field told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today.

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“So we’re going to introduce westbound on Main Street, as part of that, to help out with moving vehicles through the corridor.”

The new design, presented in a virtual public information session Thursday, calls for either two or three eastbound lanes along the six-kilometre stretch and one westbound lane with a protected bike route for much of it.

City staff suggests excessive traffic exiting the busy Highway 403 near Dundurn is where safety issues exist since drivers jump 0n to Main and King streets to drive either west or east to get from one end of the city to the other very quickly.

“That brought a number of safety issues and kind of brought us here today with the motion that we got from council and the work that we’ve been doing,” Field said.

Adjusting Main has been challenging for the city’s engineers due to the layout of real estate along the route limiting expansion amid typically excessive eastbound traffic exiting the busy Highway 403 near Dundurn.

“We do have an older city. Obviously a lot of properties back right onto the rear of the sidewalks,” Field explained. “There’s not a lot of room to use when we want to re-envision Main Street.”

Field refused to characterize the coming change as an intentional traffic jam suggesting it will not be gridlock but just be a “busier and slower” corridor than what drivers are used to now.

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“It’s going to be different. It’s going to be slower. It’s going to seem to be more congested for sure,” he said. “But I wouldn’t define it as pure gridlock.”

The city’s study period will continue over the next few weeks with a final design targeted to be in front of councillors for a potential sign-off in the summer.

Changes in the plan during that time frame are expected to be made public on the city’s website.

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