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Look into a toll for out-of-town trucks on the Red Hill and Linc: Merulla

Should the city of Hamilton toll out-of-town trucks on the Red Hill Valley and Lincoln Alexander parkways? One councillor wants to look into it.
Sam Merulla says the city should look into tolls for out-of-town trucks. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton city council will vote in the next month whether to look into tolling out-of-town trucks on the Red Hill Valley and Lincoln Alexander parkways.

Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, will raise the idea at a council meeting on Wednesday. Merulla says trucks are using the highways as a shortcut as they travel across southwestern Ontario. Tolling them would not only discourage that, but raise money to maintain the highways.

"We have traffic coming from out of country, out of province, out of town using it as a shortcut, and they should pay for it," he said.

The highways have been the subject of much recent debate at city hall. The notion of widening the highways from four to six lanes is part of a transportation master plan review. Coun. Doug Conley tried to have it addressed separately recently. Councillors voted in favour at the committee level and then voted for the original plan at council.

Merulla says there's technology in place to identify which trucks are from out of town. As for how it would identify out-of-town trucks making deliveries to local business, "that's a good question," he said. That would be part of the study.

Merulla's motion could be debated on Wednesday, or at a following council meeting on Dec. 9. But Conley already knows he's not a fan of it.

"I really don't think it's practical," said the Ward 9 councillor, adding that the administration of it would likely be "a lot more money than I'd want to spend."

"The practical thing to do, in my humble opinion, is put six lanes on that road."

Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, said he'd be willing to look into it. But when the province contributed money to build the highways, he recalled, it said that the city couldn't toll vehicles. 

"It might be a slap in the face to do (a feasibility study) without the province's approval," he said.

Otherwise, "absolutely. I'm open to tolling inter-provincial highway traffic."

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