Comment 37393

By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 25, 2010 at 16:29:55

I have seen a number of comments from time to time putting forward the idea that converting Main and King to two-way won't really affect car travel times because all of the traffic will switch to Wilson and Cannon.

The evidence tells us that's not what happens. Instead, a lot of the traffic simply disappears.

Ryan, if you're arguing that travel times by car will increase, I agree. If you're arguing that traffic won't increase on parallel streets, I don't think the reference from Jane Jacobs supports your claim:

[W]hen a road is closed, an average of 20% of the traffic it carries seems to vanish. In some cases they studied, as much as 60% of the traffic vanished.

(Jane Jacobs, _Dark Age Ahead_, 2004, p. 75)

In other words, an average of 80% of the traffic does not vanish. So if King St. is closed to automotive traffic between Wellington and Mary, then we should expect 80% of the traffic to move elsewhere. Converting Main St. to two-way will not increase overall traffic flow -- it will decrease it. (And I fully support that!) Therefore, I take this quote to imply that we will indeed see an increase in traffic on parallel streets, which in practice means Cannon.

Again, I do not want to rain on the LRT parade. But there are powerful interests that oppose LRT, and I would not be surprised if compromises have to be made in order to make sure the project goes through. One scenario that seems entirely plausible is:

  1. LRT on King.
  2. Main remains a one-way eastbound highway
  3. King/Victoria/Cannon/Queen/King becomes the westbound highway.

I don't think anyone on this board is advocating that outcome (or anything of the sort), but I remain concerned. Especially with city consultants recommending that Wilson not be converted to two-way.

Other than the concerns raised above, I agree that King is a better route than Main for LRT. It wouldn't take much work for King St. to look beautiful. And I think the everyday experience of the average person using the LRT would probably be more positive on King than on Main. The King William idea is interesting but it would slow the trains down and rob passengers of what could be a beautiful part of a daily commute. Besides, if the LRT returned to King on Mary St., it would be at risk of being crushed by collapsing theatres.

@TreyS, I believe the plans all involve LRT on Queenston east of the Delta. The King/Main debate, AFAIK, concerns the portion of the line between the 403 and the Delta.

On a lighter note, if the "Downtown Hamilton" gate needs to be torn down to accommodate light rail on King, can it be dumped in the harbour on top of the ruins of the old City Hall? I think that would achieve some kind of poetic justice.

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