City LRT Decision on One-Way Streets in Spectator

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 09, 2010

Today's Spectator has an article on the City's decision to drop two-way traffic conversions from its LRT plan.

The plan had been to run LRT vehicles in both directions down the centre of most of the 16-kilometre route, surrounded by car and truck traffic moving in each direction on either side. Downtown, it would have left the narrow stretch from Wellington to Mary with no room for two-way traffic and the plan was to close King to traffic through that stretch.

The change represents a major shift for the city's LRT plan and some transit advocates think it's a step backwards.

It's nice to see this issue getting wider coverage. While keeping King Street one-way makes sense through the core, the broader decision to leave Main and Cannon as one-way streets seriously undermines the transformative objective of LRT.

See also:

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 seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2010 at 08:25:36

I still think they should consider using Main as the transit corridor.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 10:35:15


I'm having a hard time with King as well. I understand the stated King benefits of it being the traditional primary artery and offering more private investment opportunities, however the pragmatist in me can't stop looking at the width and straightness of Main for the LRT. Main is so wide in some spots that traffic could continue during construction.

How much longer is the King route than Main and how much more would King cost than Main? Has the project team on the city ever worked out the numbers on this?

After the open house when I was told Main presented a better two way system I could support the King LRT. Now with 2 way traffic for Cannon and Main removed by the city I am leaning towards Main as the better LRT route. I am willing to listen to any King route supporters who can sell me on the route, I've always just kind of accepted it, not REALLY bought into it.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2010-12-09 09:35:48

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By Mainway (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 11:20:58

The only way I would support the LRT is if it was constructed on Main Street. And I say that living less than 100m from King Street.

I am 100% opposed to any King Streete proposal. It should just be made 2 way for vehicle traffic, and Main can take the LRT.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2010 at 11:36:33


I get the impression that the "LRT + 2-way main & cannon" was a long-term plan and not an immediate commitment - that is, they want to keep the 2-way main and cannon open as an option for the future (but are not committing to do it) hence the desire to put LRT on King.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 11:48:18


That's not how I remember it being explained to me. The volunteer could have excluded that from his explanation or I may have misunderstood him. I do remember hearing 'Main St. is the better option for the two way conversion that's going to happen.'

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 12:50:56

I've long supported King as the LRT corridor, but would happily support Main if it meant getting both streets two-way in the process. Of course, it still won't help issues like street parking on King, because as we all know, the city will have King be two-lanes each way with no parking 24-7 so it may be a moot point.

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By George (registered) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 17:02:04

What about splitting the LRT west of the Delta and "joining" it up again at Main West somewhere (Paradise, Longwood, MUMC?)?

I know it's more efficient to have both directions running side by side from a maintenance and fiscal standpoint, but is it at least worth worth exploring if King is so tight at some points?

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By Wentworthst (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2010 at 21:16:03

The fact that there even is all this "...change (that) represents a major shift for the city's LRT plan..."-- that has been so explained and further rationalized-- really gives me hope we are getting one of these from Metrolinx, even if it's not with the ideal city transportation model to start with.

I think with Mayor Ford's pushing LRT out, all the more likely they will want it somewhere like here. Once we have it, we'll figure out how to use it organically... The enhanced property assessment aspect is based on the very real fact that the real estate along the corridors always becomes more valuable. that will prompt corrections as we go too.

I'm hoping this is also about work for Bombardier too. Check out this beauty...

Me and my kids in that thing zipping across our city? Heck, we won't care what the cars do at that point...

Comment edited by Wentworthst on 2010-12-09 20:17:05

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By George (registered) | Posted December 10, 2010 at 00:09:00

To be clear, my idea of exploring the possibility of splitting the LRT lines between the delta and Main West is so that both Main and King could be converted to two way since limited space is a factor along some stretches.

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By LRT (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2010 at 11:12:01

Main St should have been the main lrt corridor 100%. The City sure dropped the ball on that by stubbornly sticking with King St despite then Downtown Councilor Bratina's public cries to study Main as well.
Hamilton: Where 'logic' goes to die!

King St would have certainly benefitted from a Main St LRT so long as it were converted two-way.
I'm convinced there are one or two senior planners who are so old and bitter they sabotage any and every Hamilton project just to keep this city down. Think Jack Macdonld-era types (rest his soul).

It's high time the city has a staff buyout party so we can hire just as many YOUNGER planning profesionals for HALF the price of these old, bitter Debbie Downers!

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 10, 2010 at 17:48:31

Just read a editorial on by Howard Elliot. Howard is incompetent.

The two-way mantra does not apply universally. Last week, city staff announced they no longer advocate making Main Street two-way when and if the LRT route goes there. That’s sensible, too, since there is evidence to show that a two-way conversion in this case would cause more problems that it would solve. But overall, Hamilton’s revitalization is better served with more two-way streets, in general, and in the long term.

Howard seems to think that the LRT is to run on Main St., he does not even fact check to the point of understanding that King is the current route. The Spectator has sunk even lower, how could they POSSIBLY get this wrong, disgusting.

Edit: Link

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2010-12-10 16:53:04

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 10, 2010 at 18:24:30


Couldn't stand it, had to contact the Spectator's newsroom and inform them of the mistake. Let's see if they fix it for tomorrow's paper.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 10, 2010 at 20:40:37

More Spectator LRT news, at least they got the right street this time.


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