TLC: 403 Bridge Work Should Support Sustainable Transportation

By Randy Kay
Published June 27, 2011

Hamilton's Transportation for Liveable Communities has just sent a letter to the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister for Transportation, to express concerns about the road construction projects on the Main and King Street bridges over Hwy 403. Copies of the letter were sent to Minister Sophia Aggelonitis, MPP Ted McMeekin, MPP Andrea Horwath, Hamilton City Council and City Alternative Transportation Manager Daryl Bender.

Transportation for Liveable Communities is writing to draw attention to the problems created by construction projects underway on King Street and Main Street bridges over Highway 403 (Chedoke Expressway) in Hamilton ON.

Rehabilitation of the bridge decks has created a hazardous and disruptive environment for city cyclists and pedestrians.

The loss of both east and west bound bicycle lanes on the King Street bridge (the busiest route for cyclists) forces cyclists to ride in traffic westbound, and to either dismount and walk across the narrow sidewalk eastbound (or in practice, ride along the sidewalk), or to detour to the Main Street bike lane over the bridge, which is narrow with an uneven road surface; the problem with the Main Street detour is compounded by the lack of bike lanes before or after the Main Street bridge, and the two highway off ramps.

For good reason, very few cyclists choose this route, pre- or during construction.

Alternative routes beyond these two bridges are either too out of the way (waterfront trail, a 4 kilometre detour with steep stairs to/from the waterfront trail) or closed during construction (West Hamilton Rail Trail - 3 kilometre out of the way). The only other possibility would be on-street using Aberdeen/Longwood, but without bike lanes on Longwood, this is unlikely to be widely used.

For good reasons of policy, both provincial and municipal governments should be taking pains to ensure the safety of sustainable transportation users. The lack of options for crossing the impediment of highway 403 flies in the face of stated objectives by the Ministry of Transportation that recognize "A sustainable transportation system offers convenient, comfortable, safe, efficient and well-integrated mode choices." Multi-modal choices are to "reduce our reliance on the automobile as the primary transportation mode", which the current situation fails to do.

Interestingly enough, halving the automobile lane capacity during construction has not created traffic chaos on King or Main street bridges. Indeed, TLC advocates a further lane reduction on King Street to permit the use of the curb lane (north lane) for a contra flow cycling lane, and leaving one lane for vehicles entering Westdale.

Observed flows suggest this treatment would not impede traffic in a way to cause anything other than occasional minor delays, if at all.

So, to recap, we have gone from two-way protected bike lane on King, and an eastbound bike lane on Main to:

  1. No westbound bike lanes;

  2. One poor quality eastbound bike lane but only over Main bridge (i.e. not connected to bike lanes);

  3. Detours suggested by city that are not convenient or practical;

  4. Pedestrians and cyclists forced together on a narrow sidewalk (King Street).

TLC strongly urges the Ministry of Transportation Ontario work with the city of Hamilton to immediately restore a demarcated contra-flow bicycle lane during the re-construction of the bridge surface on King Street.

We would appreciate a response to our serious concerns.

Randy Kay is a volunteer with OPIRG McMaster's Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) working group.


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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:01:22

I could not agree more with this. I've recently moved to Hamilton and attempted to make it over to Westdale on my bike recently for the first time. It was quite a challenge to say the least. Decided to go over via King St which meant waiting ages for a break in traffic to hop across the road then proceeded to walk across the bridge as I was not going to ride among traffic on there. I ended up going around Princess Point and the waterfront trail on the way home. All in all, kind of disappointed at how difficult it is to get across the 403.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:28:15

Good to know that I'm not the only one who noticed that King street is still flowing just fine despite losing half its lanes.

Still, I'm disappointed that the road is getting all this love while we all know that messy onramp crossing will be the same uncontrolled and confusing sack of crap it always was.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 21:52:07 in reply to Comment 65212

Good to know that I'm not the only one who noticed that King street is still flowing just fine despite losing half its lanes.

I was just saying this to Ryan the other day. Not only across the 403, but downtown by the Good Shepherd project at Ray St. One full lane has been lost for over a year now and in the middle of rush hour it is still a full speed highway. Good luck convincing the traffic department though. Stunning to me that they don't monitor and conduct traffic counts and average speeds during construction projects like this as a means of seeing how much of a road diet we actually could go on.

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By cityfail (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:28:27

"Interestingly enough, halving the automobile lane capacity during construction has not created traffic chaos on King or Main street bridges."

THIS THIS THIS. Our lane capacity is so over-built it's not even funny. Drivers seem to think they have a Human Right to drive right through the city in 10 minutes without ever having to touch their brakes.

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By RyanB (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:29:14

Seeing as though traffic has not been snarled, let's convert Main and King into two-way streets. I'm sure it won't be the end of the world.

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By 2way Ray (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:36:36

This road work is PROOF that we can convert Main, King and Cannon to two way without making gridlock. Contact your councilor and the traffic department and DEMAND that these streets get converted back to two way NOW!

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By SpaceMonkee (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 17:11:10 in reply to Comment 65218

I'm all for more bike lanes on bridges (as there are no good alternatives), but this is hardly PROOF that all of Main, King, Cannon can be converted to two way without causing significant traffic disruptions.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:48:39 in reply to Comment 65218

To be fair, Main didn't seem to handle the lane-reduction as gracefully as King did.

What's really sad is that they have those silly merge-style ramps on these bridges instead of a proper intersection. This means that converting from 1-way to 2-way will be 10x harder than it should be. Rebuilding the ramps would be hellishly expensive.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 21:53:58 in reply to Comment 65221

actually, I don't think it will be too expensive. I've studied the geography of these ramps and there is ample space to angle the curve of the ramps so they face King/Main directly, which would allow us to put a stoplight up and convert those streets to two way. Again though, you can be sure nobody at the traffic dept is looking into this.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 00:41:32

If the fact that halving the lane capacity doesn't snarl traffic at the Main & King bridges doesn't show something very important about traffic across the city, then what would? It's a bottleneck. For nearly the entire length of these roads, there are multiple alternatives - from smaller roads like Jackson to major arteries like Cannon. For the bridges, there's only Aberdeen and the York bridge, and neither are a very direct route.

As for bikes, this makes these bridges all the more crucial. We can't just ride on side streets across the highway.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 15:44:58

As part of the Highway 403 Bridge Rehabilitation - Hamilton Project, the MTO (Ministry of Transportation of Ontario) will be closing the Highway 403 westbound on-ramp from King Street West on July 4 for approximately 6 weeks. Hamilton's Public Works Department will be implementing a detour along King Street and Longwood Road to the Aberdeen 403 westbound on-ramp.

To facilitate this detour, the following changes will be put in place:

1. Two left turn lanes from westbound King to Longwood Road will be implemented

2. Longwood from King to Main will be changed to have 2 southbound lanes, 1 northbound lane and 1 bicycle lane

3. No stopping regulations will be in place on both sides of King Street between Paradise Road and Longwood Road and on Longwood Road between King and Main Streets.

All parking meters along these road sections will be temporarily
removed. HSR will be relocating bus stops along the route.

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By Westdalien (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 21:46:57 in reply to Comment 65270

wow that's fucking retarded.

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By Kevcomalias (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 19:59:16

Wow. That is complete overkill. They're hacking up Westdale to fix a bridge for 6 weeks!? On King, turn left at Queen or Dundurn, geez it's so simple.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 21:24:54

This is lunacy

Why are they not implementing permanent controlled intersections at these ramps as part of the construction?

Who can we write to about this project?

This whole mess needs to be cleaned up.

Both bridges should be two way. Paradise should be two way with proper intersections at main and king. 403 eastbound->main should be a T intersection with a light. 403 Westbound->main should intersect with main at the original frid intersection as a standard light king street should have a light where you can access both directions of the 403

this is simple stuff...and should have been addressed as part of this project. but i guess they just go for it without public consultation....

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-06-28 21:33:53

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 21:46:03 in reply to Comment 65302

here's my high quality engineering drawing showing "real" intersections... no ramps, just 2 streets that meet each other where drivers take turns going through green lights.:

403 main king

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-06-28 21:46:54

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 12, 2011 at 09:15:27

Extended Closure of Hwy 403 Westbound On-Ramp at King Street

HAMILTON, ON – August 12, 2011 – The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has extended the original six-week closure of the Highway 403 westbound on-ramp at King Street. The ramp was closed on July 4th as part of the MTO's ongoing bridge construction work. The MTO has advised the City that the ramp will remain closed until August 28th, weather permitting. The detour route will be maintained along King Street and Longwood Road to the Aberdeen 403 westbound on-ramp.

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