The City's LRT plan has $1 billion in provincial funding. Tell Council to take YES for an answer.

Metrolinx plan moves ahead

City staff are preparing for the Metrolinx benefits case analysis. City staff hope to recommend their preferred route for light rail transit on Main or King in April.

By Rob Faulkner

Published in the Hamilton Spectator on November 26, 2008

Hamilton holds its place in the final version of Metrolinx's regional transportation plan: it still has four rapid transit lines coming, more details about timing and great news for Stoney Creek.

Yesterday the provincial crown agency released a 25-year, $50 billion final draft plan for greater Toronto and Hamilton. It needs Metrolinx board approval Friday.

"There is a lot here for Hamilton," said John Howe, general manager of investment strategy and projects at Metrolinx. It's more than just rapid transit, he adds.

"It's about how Hamilton connects with the rest of the region."

Howe cited GO rail-line electrification's cutting travel time to Toronto, the James Street North regional rail station and a Burlington rapid transit line linked to Toronto's Kipling subway station.

Yesterday's final draft plan resembled September's draft, with a few changes and more details:

  • The east-west rapid transit line in the lower city is now defined as being anchored at Eastgate Square in the east end, not Centennial Parkway in general, as in the draft.

  • GO train service extends to Stoney Creek via the future James Street North station at peak times, in the first 15 years of the plan. A stop wasn't identified but may be Centennial Parkway, Howe said.

  • The Dundas Street rapid transit line linking Toronto to this region originally ended at Waterdown but will now end at Brant Street in Burlington, after more modelling on future growth patterns.

Metrolinx staff will ask Friday to get five more projects analyzed in 2009 so they can be prioritized and slated for construction. The Eastgate-McMaster B-line's analysis should be done by July 2009.

In a related budget document, this B-line is called a Category C project. So, in the 2009-13 budget it will vie for planning, design and engineering funds with 10 other projects, on which Metrolinx plans to spend $4.9 billion in total. Construction will occur for some of these categorized projects by 2013. City staff say a B-line could cost $650 million.

The first five years of the Metrolinx budget (2009-13) will spend $7 billion of the $11.5 billion in funds that the province has committed to the fledgling agency. This is the only guaranteed money Metrolinx has for its $50-billion plan.

"It's another incentive for getting our work done and in to Metrolinx in a timely manner," said Jill Stephen, Hamilton city manager of strategic planning working on rapid transit.

She was encouraged that Hamilton still has a lot coming in the final plan and that the Waterdown link is not being ignored, just delayed to a time frame beyond 25 years.

City staff are preparing for the Metrolinx benefits case analysis. City staff hope to recommend their preferred route for light rail transit on Main or King in April, she said.

See the Metrolinx plan online at metrolinx.com/en/boardMeetingDocs.aspx. It's not final without board approval Friday; that meeting may call for revisions.