Coun­cil­lors nix re­quest for Bay Street LRT stop

Fer­gu­son fears ‘scope creep’ (sur­prise changes) will run out of con­trol

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thes­pec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

A ma­jor­ity of city coun­cil­lors are not on board with an ex­tra LRT stop at Bay Street.

The city’s cham­ber of com­merce pitched adding a stop at Bay Street to the $1-bil­lion planned light rail tran­sit line late last year on be­half of a group of down­town busi­nesses, de­vel­op­ers and in­sti­tu­tions.

The idea was en­dorsed by the city’s LRT sub­com­mit­tee made up of coun­cil­lors and com­mu­nity stake­hold­ers — but a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors Wed­nes­day voted against ask­ing project lead Metrolinx to con­sider the late add.

“I will not sup­port any fur­ther scope creep that will just run out of con­trol,” said Coun. Lloyd Fer­gu­son, a LRT sup­porter who has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion about sur­prise project changes like the prov­ince’s re­cent pledge to swap a James Street spur for rapid bus ser­vice.

Coun. Chad Collins, who does not sup­port the project, ques­tioned whether a Bay Street stop — on top of an­other ex­pected new stop at Gage Park — would make the light rail sys­tem slower than the ex­ist­ing B-line bus ser­vice.

City LRT point per­son Paul John­son said a Bay Street stop would add 50 sec­onds to the end-to-end run time from McMaster Univer­sity to the Queen­ston traf­fic cir­cle. The pre­lim­i­nary route made pub­lic last year had 13 stops. Adding plat­forms at Gage and Bay would raise the to­tal to 15.

With or with­out the stop, John­son said the travel time for LRT would be “sim­i­lar” to that of the ex­ist­ing ex­press buses on the Main-King cor­ri­dor, but added the sep­a­rated light rail line would not en­counter the pe­ri­odic traf­fic jams that some­times slow HSR buses.

The vote capped an ac­ri­mo­nious de­bate about var­i­ous as­pects of the city’s rapid tran­sit plan Wed­nes­day that in­cluded a sep­a­rate de­ci­sion to put off an in­for­ma­tion up­date about the new pro­vin­cial bus rapid tran­sit plan for the A-line.

Later, coun­cil­lors voted to hold reg­u­lar ded­i­cated meet­ings for project up­dates out­side of the ex­ist­ing LRT sub­com­mit­tee, with chair Coun. Maria Pearson ar­gu­ing the topic is “hi­jack­ing” other city busi­ness.

Coun. Sam Merulla an­nounced his in­ten­tion to bring for­ward a mo­tion ask­ing Metrolinx to es­ti­mate the cost to the city if coun­cil were to aban­don the project.

Last Oc­to­ber, coun­cil was told as much as $70 mil­lion had been spent on the project and Mayor Fred Eisen­berger warned tax­pay­ers could be on the hook to cover a por­tion of those costs if LRT didn’t go ahead.

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