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Update coming from city for planned rapid transit neighbours

Hamilton city staff will update occupants along the Main and King corridors next month on plans for rapid transit outside their doors.

By Rob Faulkner

(Published in the Hamilton Spectator on Jan. 17, 2009)

Hamilton city staff will update occupants along the Main and King corridors next month on plans for rapid transit outside their doors.

The city is studying rapid transit -- which it hopes will result in provincially funded light rail -- on the B-line, from Eastgate Square to McMaster University. A precise route hasn't been selected yet.

In July the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx is expected to finish an analysis of the B-line, to determine whether it warrants rapid buses or light rail vehicles.

So, the city is doing studies they hope will aid the Metrolinx analysis covering topics like archeology, natural heritage, economic spinoff, technology, routing and more. It is these study results that city staff plan to share with people along the King-Main corridor in February.

"All of our consultation has been city-wide so far, and we have not done targeted mail-outs along the corridor," said Jill Stephen, acting director of strategic and environmental planning.

"We want to make sure they know what is going on, that they contribute and they know what our plan is for the process."

The year 2009 is a big one for local rapid transit. After next month's consultation with people, city studies go to council for approval in April, before Metrolinx starts its benefits case analysis of the B-line.

In November, the B-line was listed as a Top 15 priority project in the first 15 years of the Metrolinx regional transportation plan. It also identified an A-line (downtown to the airport) within 15 years, and longer-term, backward L-shaped lines from the east end to Ancaster.

An update on Hamilton's role in the 25-year Metrolinx plan is expected Monday at a city public works committee meeting.

Stephen said the city is also preparing for the roll out of the A-line bus rapid transit line this fall. She said the city must soon find a way to design stops or stations, on the north-south James-Upper James route, suitable for bus or light rail vehicles.