this blog entry has been updated
Downtown businesses are understandably nervous about the major changes to their neighbourhood that will be coming with the proposed LRT line.
However, it is important to remember why the City, Chamber of Commerce, Realtors Association and the Downtown BIA and many others support LRT: because of its proven ability to attract billions of dollars in new investment, more residents, more customers and catalyse a revitalized Hamilton.
The opposition to the King only route is also based on a couple of misunderstandings.
First, the pedestrian-only configuration is only one option. The route could also be configured to retain vehicular traffic.
Secondly, although on-street parking on King would be lost, the City would work to increase off-street parking to compensate.
It should also be remembered that LRT would hugely increase the number of customers arriving by transit, and that downtown Hamilton currently has an over-supply of parking lots.
Finally, the King only routing was preferred by the City's consultants because it maximizes both the economic benefit of LRT (which the Downtown BIAs should support), and vehicular traffic flow through the core along Main St.
Splitting the line would reduce both traffic flow and the economic development potential of the line.
I agree with the Downtown BIAs that we need to get the details right in order to enhance our downtown economy and maximize access. That's why a detailed study on the various options (PDF link) recommends the King St route.
Update: added hyperlink to the study on LRT route options, as per this comment.
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