Hamilton is getting a modified LRT—but only if the feds help pay

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Published February 9, 2021 at 8:50 pm

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The Ontario government is seeking federal funds to help finance an updated Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan for Hamilton.

The new plan consists of a shorter LRT line than the initial proposal, which was approved by the previous provincial government, and would have gone from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.

Pending a federal response, the new line would go from McMaster to “Gage Park or further,” according to an official media release from the Province.

“We’re keeping our word and honouring our $1 billion capital commitment to transportation infrastructure investments in the City of Hamilton, and we urge the federal government to join us in building a viable LRT,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

“It’s going to take all levels of government to make a meaningful Hamilton LRT project a reality. Everyone is going to need to pitch in.”

The Ontario government formed the Hamilton Transportation Task Force after cancelling the initial LRT project.

The Task Force noted that a “higher-order transportation option,” such as an LRT, was the preferred option.

Read the Hamilton Transportation Task Force report

Metrolinx then took over a technical review of the Task Force’s recommendations to determine what options were possible.

Metrolinx indicated that a $1 billion LRT system funded solely with provincial capital would not be of sufficient length to be a viable project to benefit the people of Hamilton.

The report suggests a longer LRT could be a viable option pending federal funding.

“A feasible LRT project is therefore only possible if the federal government partners with the province,” added the Ontario government.

The Metrolinx report also noted that Hamilton’s LRT project is shovel-ready, adding that rapid transit would benefit the city by improving the capacity, reliability, and travel time of transit along Hamilton’s main travel corridors.

Read the Metrolinx report

The report says an LRT line would optimize the transportation network, creating a more sustainable compact urban core, encouraging mixed-use developments and accommodating the projected population and employment growth.

“I was pleased to speak with the province this morning and welcome the news that they will be naming the Hamilton LRT as one of five priority transit projects,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “We look forward to working with the provincial and federal governments to make this project a reality. Public transit is a priority of Council and I am grateful to Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney for helping to bring this important project back on track.”

The province says it’s identifying the Hamilton LRT project as a fifth priority transit project, joining the Ontario Line Subway, Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, and Yonge North Subway Extension projects.

“Today’s announcement recognizing the Hamilton LRT as a priority project is an optimistic step forward for getting shovels in the ground of this highly-anticipated project,” said Joseph Mancinelli, LiUNA International Vice President and Regional Manager of Central and Eastern Canada.

“Investing in significant transit infrastructure will continue to create thousands of jobs for LiUNA members and workers across the skilled trades, while addressing critical improvements to existing infrastructure, working collaboratively to invest, expand and strengthen communities across Ontario. On behalf of LiUNA, we look forward to a promising partnership with the provincial and federal government as we work together to get shovels in the ground on mass transit priority projects across the GTHA.”

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