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Turning Hamilton's $1B LRT into reality: The hard work begins

The city will move ahead with its light rail transit dream next week when it will establish an office and hire a company to design the $1-billion system.
Councillors will vote next week to take concrete steps toward LRT, including hiring a company to design it. (Steer Davies Gleave)

The city will move ahead with its light rail transit dream next week when it will establish an office and hire a company to design the $1-billion system.

City councillors will vote Monday whether to create an LRT office, hire Steer Davies Gleave to do the conceptual design and environmental assessment, and hammer out a memorandum of agreement with Metrolinx.

Monday's vote will represent the first concrete move toward LRT in the lower city since Premier Kathleen Wynne announced full capital funding for the system in May, said Coun. Sam Merulla. 

"This is, in essence, the beginning of the development itself," he said.

LRT will run from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle, with a shorter line running to James Street North.

The designers will factor in any necessary changes for the line, which will include a spur line to the West Harbour GO station on James Street North. Those designs will include a pedestrian corridor and connecting to a maintenance and storage facility for the trains.

Metrolinx is the lead agency on the project and expects to start procurement fo Hamilton's LRT line by 2017. 

The province is also paying for a new GO station at Centennial Parkway, which will be finished by 2019.

Here are some other highlights of the report:

  • It will cost the city $2,096,294 for Steer Davies Gleave's work. The technical work will start in August and finish in March 2017. It is "staff's understanding" that Metrolinx will pay for that, city manager Chris Murray says in the report. 
  • The memorandum of understanding will take about 12 to 18 months to finish and will deal with details such as who oversees which parts of the project. 
  • The new LRT office will include a project lead, transit lead, planner and communications person, and also use experts in engineering, real estate law and finance. Metrolinx will, "we believe," cover the staffing costs, the report says.
  • The report recommends looking at area rating for transit, although says that the status quo, where urban areas pay predominantly for transit, will be "a consideration and a possible outcome."

Councillors will discuss the report at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

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