Entire City to be Converted to One-Way

Council votes unanimously to close the book on the failed two-way conversion experiment and revert every street citywide to one-way.

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 01, 2014

this article has been updated

After decades envying all the myriad benefits of lower city Hamilton's excellent network of fast, efficient paired one-way thoroughfares that accrued unfairly to lower city residents, the city's Mountain and suburban councillors have approved a motion to extend the one-way street network city-wide.

Draft one-way conversion plan
Draft one-way conversion plan (Image Credit: City of Hamilton)

The surprise motion was introduced last night by Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead, who explained, "This is about needs, not wants." He added that he gets dozens of letters and phone calls a week from constituents demanding to have their streets converted.

Mountain residents complaining about the terrible quality of life on their two-way streets cheered the news, excited that they will finally get to enjoy the high-quality experience of living on one-way thoroughfares that elitist lower city residents have long hoarded for themselves.

Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr seconded the motion, declaring that the lower city two-way conversions over the past decade were a failure and adding an amendment to revert those streets back to one-way. Both the motion and the amendment were carried unanimously in a standing vote.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson angrily pointed out that an earlier Council vote forced a "complete streets" redesign on his beloved Wilson Street. "Wide sidewalks, bike lanes and tree-lined medians are nice and all, but where are the cars supposed to go?"

He called the experiment a "total flop" and demanded to have Ancaster included in the conversions. His amendment also carried unanimously.

Mayor Bob Bratina spoke eloquently in favour of the initiative, reminiscing about the morning in 1956 when he woke up to find that a huge swath of the lower city had been converted to one-way literally overnight. "We need to be that ambitious city again!"

Bratina moved an amendment that this conversion should also happen all at once over a single night, to minimize disruption for motorists and, in Bratina's words, "tear off the bandaid at once." That amendment was also carried unanimously.

Staff said they needed some time to complete the preparations, so Council set a citywide conversion time for midnight on April 1, 2015.

New One-Way Network

Starting from the west, Upper Paradise will be one-way northbound and Garth will be one-way southbound. Beckett Drive will also be one-way southbound (up the mountain), and the section of Queen Street that is currently two-way between Aberdeen Avenue and Herkimer Street will be converted to one-way southbound as well.

A new northbound street will be added between Upper Paradise and Garth to accommodate local northbound traffic, encompassing the east tip of Clifton Downs Road, Purnell Drive, part of Juanita Drive and West 25th Street to connect to Scenic Drive. Approximately 17 homes will have to be demolished to make room for the new street, which residents have been demanding.

James Street, whose property values collapsed and its street retail businesses all folded after the disastrous two-way conversion in 2002 and 2005, will go back to being one-way southbound, with the one-way flow extended up James Mountain Road (up the mountain) to West 5th, which will also be one-way southbound.

John Street will go back to being one-way northbound, a flow that will continue on a northbound (down the mountain) only Jolley Cut and a northbound-only Upper Wellington.

Upper Wentworth will be one-way southbound, Upper Sherman will be one-way northbound, Upper Gage will be one-way southbound, Upper Ottawa will be one-way northbound, and Upper Kenilworth will be one-way southbound.

East-west routes will also be converted to paired one-way thoroughfares, easing the gridlock that has plagued Mountain residents while traffic flows smoothly in the lower city.

Concession Street will be one-way westbound, Fennell Avenue will be one-way eastbound, Mohawk Road will be one-way westbound, Stone Church Road will be one-way eastbound, and Rymal Road will be one-way westbound.

Once suburban development extends to Twenty Road in the next ten years, it will be converted to one-way eastbound. In the longer term, Dickenson Road will be converted to one-way westbound in 20-25 years.

In the north end, Barton Street will be converted to one-way westbound and Burlington Street will be converted to one-way eastbound.

In West Hamilton, the one-way westbound flow on King Street will extend right through Westdale and over McMaster in a new elevated highway that will skip right over the McMaster University campus and continue westbound on Cootes Drive to King Street West through downtown Dundas.

Some students and faculty complained about the potential loss of sunlight with a new elevated highway over the campus, but the McMaster engineering department, in cooperation with CanMet Materials Laboratory, pledged to work with the city to construct at least part of the highway out of transparent aluminum.

Main Street will be extended one-way eastbound all the way through west Hamilton, down Osler Drive to Governor's Road, which will be one-way eastbound until it reaches Copetown.

Eager to be part of some good news for a change, Ancaster will also see its streets converted to one-way. Wilson Street East will be one-way westbound, while Jerseyville Road/Golf Links Road will be one-way eastbound to connect with Stone Church Road and Garner Road will be one-way westbound to connect with Rymal Road.

Fiddler's Green will be one-way northbound and McNiven Road/Southcote Road will be one-way southbound.

In the east end of the City, Main Street and King Street currently revert to two-way east of Gage Park where they cross. After last night's motion, those segments will be converted to one-way through Stoney Creek. King will be one-way westbound, Queenston Road will be one-way eastbound, and Barton Street will be one-way westbound.

Barnesdale Avenue will be converted to one-way southbound and Gage Avenue will be one-way northbound.

Ottawa Street, which suffered a devastating collapse in property values as its retail businesses closed down, will be converted to one-way southbound in an attempt to save its last remaining businesses by making them easier to drive past. Curbside parking will be removed so there is room for four lanes.

Kenilworth will be one-way northbound, Parkdale Avenue will be one-way southbound, Nash Road will be one-way northbound, Centennial Parkway will be one-way southbound (extending up the Mountain to Upper Centennial), Lake Avenue will be one-way northbound, Gray Road will be one-way southbound, Green Road will be one-way northbound, Millen Road will be one-way southbound, Dewitt Road will be one-way northbound, and Fruitland Road will be one-way southbound.

In the longer term, this alternating pattern will eventually extend all the way to Fifty Road as development continues east from Fruitland.

East of the Red Hill Valley Parkway, Mount Albion Road will be one-way northbound, Quigley Road will be one-way southbound and Greenhill will be one-way northbound.

On Stoney Creek Mountain, Mud Street will be one-way westbound and Highland Road will be one-way eastbound.

Update: April Fool's, of course.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By AP (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 07:22:44

Well played! :)

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 07:29:12

Fantastic April 1 news!

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 07:58:44

"My way or the highway?" Why choose?

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[ - ]

By shocker (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 08:09:57

Fooled me!

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 08:16:21

you've been waiting all year for this, haven't you?

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By hellohamiltonca (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:08:25 in reply to Comment 99531

I think he took one year to write it too.

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By Wooden Skull (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 08:52:06

Took me a second.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 08:57:48

I love it! Finally a little consideration for the little guy.

I've decided to melt down my bike and start getting my ride ready!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:19:33 in reply to Comment 99535

... but for anyone who does obstinately continue cycling after this most enlightened conversion, a suggested accessory

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By heartattack (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:02:58

Almost had a heart attack. Freking guy man!

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:26:17

Let's put all the suburbs into one-way cul-de-sacs!

Happy April 1 everyone.

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:35:25


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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:47:09

Sanity prevails. I'll be able to get to Limeridge Mall even faster. Talk about your lifestyle. Speaking of which, has any thought been given to converting parking lots to one way?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 10:18:54

Also on trend:

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By Charlotte (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 10:24:06

Nice touch using the original Wilbur Smith & Associates one-way network for the draft conversion plan.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2014 at 10:37:51 in reply to Comment 99546

I love how the original plan was both more and less extreme than what we have today - it included the mountain, and it left Kirkendall completely unscathed.

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By Mxyzptlk (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 10:53:27 in reply to Comment 99547

You're not really surprised are you. One-way streets are great - for other people. Downtown is a sacrifice zone, not the mountain.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 11:53:18

Great satire piece, but not nearly as funny as this.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 12:01:11

Just think, with genius planning like this we may one day lay claim to being called 'The 18-minute City'!! Talk about ambitious.

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By higgicd (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 12:42:57

*2020 update from the future - after unanimously approving the conversion of all streets to one-way, a late amendment snuck in by lower city councillors had all roads travel only in the northern and eastern direction. However, no one complained as it funnelled drivers away from the lower city (that they see no value in and never wanted to be there anyhow), permanently ending the cycle of lower Hamilton being a racetrack for commuters at the expense of local safety and economic development.

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By Lupul (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 20:39:55

Finally, some common sense!!!

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted April 02, 2014 at 14:53:37

Next year's announcement: full interchanges at all major intersections.

Think of the savings! Reduced costs from operating fewer traffic lights, faster trips creating time savings, no more broadside collisions and their associated costs (which will also reduce insurance rates for Hamilton drivers), fewer idling cars... And we can beautify the city through the use of decorative concrete treatments and planters built at ramp-side.

It will be a marvel of engineering. People will come from all over just to experience it.

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