LRT crew scanning and drilling to prepare for construction

Utility engineering crews are scanning the ground along Hamilton's future LRT route to take stock of utilities underground. Metrolinx will use the information to determine which ones need to be moved.
Scott Paterson of T2 Utility Engineers scans for and marks utilities and water and sewer lines under a Hamilton street this week. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

It's a milestone of sorts — the first time crews are drilling into the ground for Hamilton's planned light trail transit (LRT) system.

This is the best you can do without tearing up the road.- Andrew Hope, Metrolinx director for Hamilton LRT

Engineers are moving along the LRT route, scanning the ground to mark the exact locations of utilities running underneath. When they want to get a better look, they're drilling bore holes, said Andrew Hope, Metrolinx's director for Hamilton LRT.

This work will help Metrolinx determine which utility lines need to be moved to build the $1 billion system, Hope said. The workers with T2 Utility Engineers started Aug. 2 and will finish this spring.

Red marks show where utilities are located at the intersection of Breadalbane Street and King Street East. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"Until you open up the road, there are always hidden surprises," he said. But "this is the best you can do without tearing up the road."

Metrolinx is paying for the work as part of the $1 billion budget, as well as any complications that arise from it, Hope said. Under the memorandum of agreement with the city, Metrolinx will also pay to relocate utility lines or pipes that the city doesn't already plan to replace. The city pays if it wants to do any upgrades.

The city website says the work will cause occasional lane closures from Kingsmount Street to Longwood Avenue between now and Oct. 11.

This map shows the future LRT route and its stops. (City of Hamilton)

The planned LRT system will run alternatively down Main and King streets from McMaster University to the Queenston traffic circle. It will also run down James Street North from King Street to the West Harbour GO station — or the waterfront, budget permitting.

Metrolinx will spend $1 billion in provincial dollars for the system, with input from the city. Hamilton city council will vote this fall on whether to accept the system.

Meanwhile, Metrolinx and the city will hold public information sessions starting Sept. 12.

Here's a list:

Monday, Sept. 12
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: McMaster Innovation Park, Atrium
175 Longwood Rd. S.

Tuesday, Sept. 13
Time: 3 to 5 p.m, and 6 to 8 p.m.
Location: Hamilton city hall, council chambers & level two lobby
71 Main St. W.

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: LIUNA Station, Continental Express Ballroom
360 James St. N.

Thursday, Sept. 15
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: Dr. John Perkins Centre, Room A & Atrium
1429 Main St. E.

Tuesday, Sept. 20
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: Battlefield House Museum, Jackson House Cellar
77 King St. W., Stoney Creek

Wednesday, Sept. 21
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: Sackville Hill Senior's Recreation Centre, Fireside Lounge
780 Upper Wentworth St.

Thursday, Sept. 22
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Location: Dundas Town Hall, Second Floor Auditorium
60 Main St., Dundas

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC