Major changes were announced Nov. 16 to the Metrolinx/Hamiltion Street Railway light rail project that could save well over C$100 million of the project’s cost.
Metrolinx, the project’s sponsor, has announced that the existing Main Street road bridge will be used to take the LRT line across the Chedoke Valley, in the city’s west end. This ends the need to build a new, LRT-only bridge across the valley on an angle from King Street, which the line follows for several miles. It may be assumed that the Main Street bridge, which is several decades old, will require strengthening to support LRT tracks and cars; a cost for this has apparently yet to be estimated.
After exiting the Main Street road bridge, the LRVs will turn north (left) onto a widened Dundurn Street and travel a block to King Street and back to the original route. The city has had plans for some time to convert both Main Street and King Street back to bi-directional traffic, which will allow the use of the Main Street bridge for the LRT. A stop will be built on Dundurn at Main.
Another saving will come from building the carhouse connecting track west along Frid Street, which originates off Main Street immediately east of the bridge. This will take the LRVs to the carhouse and shop facility located just west of Chatham Street. Originally, the plan had been to approach the carhouse from the west, requiring a new Longwood Road bridge across the aforementioned valley. This eliminates the bridge as an LRT project, although it will still need to be built, as the present bridge dates back to the late 1930s. Its construction, minus LRT tracks, now becomes a City of Hamilton project, although a provincial subsidy will likely be available.
The changes are not expected to delay construction of the LRT line, which is scheduled to commence in 2024. In fact, eliminating the two bridges as part of the project will likely advance the completion date.