Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 15, 2015
Province set to unveil LRT game-changer for Hamilton
The province is close to announcing a game-changing commitment to light rail transit in Hamilton, The Spectator has learned.
Sources at both levels of government say a transit funding commitment is imminent — perhaps as early as next week — but hinges on overcoming serious logistical hurdles.
A spokesperson for Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca wouldn’t comment on the specific timing or substance of the anticipated announcement, but promised the minister “will be in the city in the coming weeks to discuss what Ontario’s … transit and transportation infrastructure plan means for the residents of Hamilton.”
The province wants to green-light part or all of the city’s requested $811-million LRT line — but potentially deal-breaking details still need to be nailed down, said sources who didn’t want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the discussions.
A transit garage and GO expansion have also been discussed as additional or alternative announcements. If all goes well, a visit is expected any time between next week and early June.
Premier Kathleen Wynne raised eyebrows when she spoke in the legislature about the importance of working with Hamilton to “build that LRT.”
She later corrected the record to say she meant “rapid transit.”
The city asked for both $811 million for LRT and $302 million for express buses and a maintenance facility in advance of the provincial budget.
Sources say a critical question is whether there’s enough cash to build LRT all the way from McMaster University to Eastgate Square — especially given the province is insisting on a spur-line connecting to at least one GO station. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)