LRT changes get Ballard’s blessing
Hamilton’s light rail transit project, which has sparked passionate support and opposition in the city, has received another green light from the province.
“Fantastic news!” tweeted Mayor Fred Eisenberger Thursday. “We’ve received confirmation today that (Ontario environment minister) Chris Ballard is allowing LRT to proceed as amended.”
In the spring, the city submitted an environmental assessment (EA) to the province to approve an LRT route extended by three kilometres to Eastgate Square.
Project lead Metrolinx and the city updated design documents to reflect an additional three stops in the east end and eliminated an earlier proposed transit terminal at the Queenston traffic circle.
Eisenberger told The Spectator the EA approval is another milestone in the life of the project but challenges remain.
“One can expect hiccups along the way, and we’ve had them and overcome them, and we are still on our time schedule we set out early on.”
That schedule, he said, means having contracts signed in September 2018.
“I won’t celebrate until we have shovels in the ground … But this (EA) was a big hurdle that had to be crossed, and now we can get on with finalizing design issues and other details and acquisition of property that needs to happen.”
A letter from Ballard, which will be presented to councillors Wednesday at the general issues committee, says the Ministry of the Environment received 25 objections to the amended LRT plan, including concerns about the cost of the project, noise, pollution, construction and road congestion.
Ballard wrote he believes the project won’t have a negative impact on “matters of provincial importance related to the natural environment … As such, you may now proceed with changes to the Hamilton B-Line LRT project …”