A contingent of LRT supporters from Brampton and Hamilton visited Waterloo on Saturday to tour its LRT construction.
By Mark Rejhon
Published May 16, 2016
Last week, I accepted an invitation by the Brampton LRT advocacy to tour the Kitchener-Waterloo ION LRT construction on Saturday May 14. This tour was also covered in the Hamilton Spectator and Waterloo Record.
The co-founder of a Brampton LRT advocacy group, OneBrampton, contacted me to invite Hamiltonians to join the tour along with the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge transit advocacy group TriTAG. I brought along a contingent of Hamilton residents and LRT supporters, and we headed to Kitchener-Waterloo together.
Here are photos of our LRT construction tour in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Meet at Charles St. Transit Terminal in Downtown Kitchener (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Route map of ION LRT
Andrew deGroot discussing construction to the group (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Elected representatives greeted our group (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Our LRT tour opened with a meet-and-greet with Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky, as well as Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry. Beaming at how successful the LRT construction has been in recruiting many new employers as well as office expansions (including Google Canada), they also explained the positive benefits in densification and real estate as well.
Pragmatically, they acknowledged that they have to bear construction towards the end, for the benefits and success. Jaworksy remarked how they are transitioning their downtowns into walkable urban cores, by around 2025.
Mark Rejhon of Hamilton LRT Citizen Advocacy, with mayor Berry and Dave (Image Credit: Andrew DeGroot)
After the meet-and-greet, we took an iXpress bus to University of Waterloo, and began walking the entire LRT construction all the way back towards downtown Kitchener, taking photos along the way.
Photo montage (Image Credit: Damin Starr)
The skies started out dreary and became brighter and bluer towards the end of the tour – suggestive of weathering through construction headaches gradually towards the blue skies of construction completion and LRT operation.
Due to Kitchener-Waterloo’s layout, their LRT is a mix. There are sections on-road, sections in railroad corridors, sections where tracks are together, and sections where tracks are (a short distance) apart. Here are several photos of railroad right-of-way sections:
Tracks at University of Waterloo (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Accessible LRT platform, designed for all-door level boarding (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Kate Daley discusses appropriate density along LRT route (Image Credit: Damin Starr)
With major LRT construction, several roads are closed throughout Kitchener and Waterloo, for various time periods. Wayfinding and construction signs were everywhere along the LRT route, as to be expected.
Construction information & wayfinding (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Business wayfinding attached to construction fences (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
With road closures making it more difficult to access businesses, one way Kitchener has coped to is install wayfinding on construction fences. These signs were provided for free to local businesses. We should strive to do the same in Hamilton, to help our local businesses survive construction.
We know there are many local Hamilton businesses that support LRT construction (obviously, with some trepidation), and many that are against the construction. TriTAG acknowledged to our group that some business owners do decide to retire early, and that is always a preferable outcome over a business going bankrupt. Over the long term, businesses will prosper on average, so construction is a short-term pain.
There are many LRT promotions and specials occurring, and some businesses have been creative such as installing a path of pink flamingos towards their door. Some businesses have provided a “construction wayfinding map” in the corner of all their print advertisements, to show their best parking spots of the current moment.
We must learn from Kitchener-Waterloo, and play our part to help businesses survive LRT construction.
Even scenic pedestrian paths include detour wayfinding (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
We took a pretty detour through Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Many new developments next to the LRT route (Image Credit: Damin Starr)
Perimeter Institute, and new developments (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Road closures are an expected part of major construction (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Median LRT that has not had tracks installed yet (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Intersection with LRT crossing – which is likely very similar to parts of Hamilton LRT (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
LRT station being built near the hospital (Image Credit: Andrae Griffith)
Median LRT tracks (Image Credit: Andrae Griffith)
Median LRT track on 4-lane road being converted to 2 car lanes, 2 LRT lanes (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
LRT construction (Image Credit: Andrae Griffith)
There is impressive densification occurring in downtown Kitchener as we speak. The construction, understandably is a huge mess for important progress.
Just like Google expanding in Kitchener-Waterloo thanks in part to the LRT, we have companies such as IBM expanding in Hamilton also thanks in part to our LRT and more companies will be coming to Hamilton. Our beautiful city must not give up the pursuit of our LRT to help us economically succeed, as our LRT doubles as both transit and economic development.
New Google Headquarters expansion being built next to LRT route (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Existing Google Canada offices behind the new high tech building expansion (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Convergence of LRT, GO, bus, and VIA (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
Densification (Image Credit: Andrae Griffith)
Densification (Image Credit: Andrae Griffith)
Major construction boom in downtown Kitchener (Image Credit: Mark Rejhon)
We are very appreciative of the Brampton LRT advocacy inviting Hamiltonians to join their group, on a construction tour of the Kitchener-Waterloo ION LRT. It is quite apparent that while construction can be difficult, they are going in it for the long haul and long-term economic success.
We must support the Hamilton LRT and also help our businesses survive short-term pain for long-term gain. It is very clear that LRT is both transit and economic development, and Hamilton will benefit greatly.
Tell Hamilton City Council to take YES for an answer:
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