City still doesn't know how LRT will work in the International Village

International Village business owners worried that light-rail transit (LRT) will block off vehicle traffic forever don’t need to panic – yet.
The design for LRT is only 30 per cent finished. The city will decide as it designs the other 70 per cent how it will handle the International Village area, and whether it will be closed completely to vehicle traffic. (Steer Davies Gleave)

International Village business owners worried that light-rail transit (LRT) will block off vehicle traffic forever don't need to panic – yet.

Initial plans for the 10.8-kilometre line propose closing the area from Walnut to Mary Streets completely to car traffic, so only pedestrians and the LRT system would fit on the narrow stretch.

But that's not a done deal yet, said Gerry Davis, the city's manager of public works. The city is hiring a consultant, and that consultant will have plenty of ideas for how to get around that.

"We'll revisit it," Davis said.

The design for the LRT line is 30 per cent complete, but the rest of the design phase will get into more detail about that area, he said.

"What will say whether this area will be pedestrian only or allow vehicles, or none of the above."

The International Village area was a source of anxiety on Monday, when Susie Braithwaite, executive director of the International Village BIA, and Kathy Drewitt from the Downtown BIA voiced their concerns to the city's general issues committee.

The International Village BIA board feels positive about LRT, Braithwaite told councillors. But it's concerned about the future of businesses there, particularly during construction and if the area is closed to vehicles.

"It needs to be addressed with consultant with long-time businesses to see if they could survive with a pedestrian-only space," she said.

"Our stretch of LRT is quite possibly the most complicated."

Hamilton's $1.2-billion LRT line should be completed in 2024. The King Street line will run from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle. Another 2.3-kilometre line will run from King Street to the waterfront. Another three-kilometre line will run to the Wentworth maintenance facility.

The city will use Steer Davies Gleave to complete the design and an environment assessment. Then Infrastructure Ontario will tender the project.

Proposed LRT stops

B line:

  • McMaster University
  • McMaster Medical Centre
  • Longwood Road
  • Dundurn Street
  • Queen Street
  • Hamilton GO Station/Gore Park
  • Walnut Street
  • First Place
  • Wentworth Street
  • Sherman Avenue
  • Gage Avenue
  • The Delta
  • Ottawa Street
  • Kenilworth Avenue
  • Queenston Traffic Circle

A line:

  • Cannon Street East
  • West Harbour GO Station
  • Picton
  • Waterfront

Future stops:

  • Parkdale Avenue
  • Nash Road

Eastgate Square