Hamilton’s light rail effort is on track, city says
Emma Reilly The Hamilton Spectator Sat Jun 16 2012
Transportation officials are completing studies to forward to province ahead of funding decision.
A year after controversy erupted around the city’s rapid transit office, city staff say they’re still pushing to bring light rail to Hamilton.
Last summer, the city became embroiled in a debate about whether it was backing away from its pursuit of light rail transit (LRT).
Today, the city’s new director of transportation says his team is still working on gathering essential information it needs to forward to the province.
Hamilton LRT efforts have been combined into a new office that oversees all the transportation files in the city, including the HSR, cycling, foot traffic, LRT and inter-regional transit. Don Hull, formerly in charge of the HSR, is responsible for overseeing all of these files.
Hull says his team has been busy completing studies to forward to the province in advance of its decision about funding Hamilton’s rapid transit initiatives (which is expected in mid-2013).
These include noise and vibration studies to determine the effect of LRT on sensitive equipment at McMaster University, an environmental assessment of a new storage and maintenance facility, and more specific information about how much the project will cost.
Hull’s team is also studying how the LRT line could be phased in to help both the city and the province pay for the project.
“I think what’s really helpful is that we’ve taken on a very clear, focused mandate for 2012, so we know exactly what’s expected of us,” Hull said.
Until these studies are completed, Metrolinx chair Bruce McCuaig has said the regional transit authority won’t be able to make a decision about funding Hamilton’s LRT line.
Councillor Brian McHattie — who teamed with fellow councillor Jason Farr to put forward the motion reaffirming council’s support for LRT — says he’s pleased with the progress Hull’s office is making.
“I’m very satisfied. They actually are following up on each and every part of that motion that Councillor Farr and I moved and keeping in touch with Metrolinx,” McHattie said. “I think we’re in good shape.”
Last summer, comments by Mayor Bob Bratina and city manager Chris Murray sparked concern about the city’s commitment to LRT. That prompted a motion from council in October supporting the continuation of a full investigation into the feasibility of light rail transit for Hamilton.