Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 6, 2016
New push to add LRT stop at Bay Street
A late plea for a Bay Street LRT stop is one of several requested route changes project planners will chew on before spitting out a final design next spring.
The city’s light rail transit stakeholder committee will formally receive a letter from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Nov. 29 asking for a Bay Street stop on the east-west leg of the planned $1-billion LRT line.
“It is not a stretch to assume that the Bay Street Station would immediately become the second-busiest station between the two end nodes of the B-line,” reads the letter signed by representatives from large downtown players such as McMaster University, the art gallery, Carmen’s Group and Vrancor.
The city and project lead Metrolinx need to submit an updated environmental assessment — including a finalized route — to the province for approval next spring. But there is still time to consider “reasonable” change requests based on public feedback, said city LRT point person Paul Johnson.
“We are looking at a number of requests now, things like pedestrian crossings, intersection changes and yes, stop locations,” he said. “Just don’t ask us to move the whole thing to Main Street. No, we are not going to look at that.”
Johnson said public suggestions to date have already resulted in a relocated stop to the border of the International Village. Planners are also revisiting the possibility of a Gage Avenue stop based on a “surprisingly strong” reaction from the public.
Similarly, businesses in the International Village have convinced planners to scope out an additional pedestrian crossing along that section of the King Street line. Other merchants have helped tweak partial intersection and street closures.
Johnson wouldn’t comment on the likelihood of Bay Street being adopted as a new stop, but noted there are some challenges to adding any new stop.
It costs “a few million dollars” to add a platform and amenities along a typical LRT line, he said. But he added potential intersection changes and land purchases can inflate the “real cost” dramatically.
The light rail transit line is also meant to be an express service, with an average distance between stops of about 800 metres. Project planners are aiming for peak period wait times of six minutes.
Stops at Queen Street, Bay and James would represent some of the shortest distances between platforms along the route, Johnson said, in some cases under 400 metres.(Source: Hamilton Spectator)