Wednesday, May 07, 2008

bridging community

Transportation for Liveable Communities
A Working Group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

May 7, 2008
Justin Readman, B.Sc.(Env.)
Project Manager, Environmental Planning
Capital Planning & Implementation
Public Works, City of Hamilton

Dear Mr. Readman
I am writing on behalf of Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC), a group committed to improving Hamilton's neighbourhoods by promoting healthy and efficient transportation.

TLC would first like to commend the Department of Public Works for continually addressing the need for pedestrian friendly infrastructure. The recently completed Mary St. bridge and the east end escarpment staircase are projects that link streets and neighbourhoods, increasing opportunities for exercise, interaction and efficient transportation. The Transportation Master Plan also identifies obstacles to pedestrian movement and aims to increase walking as a choice mode of transportation through more such infrastructure, particularly over the LINC and QEW. Clearly, the City places a high value on walkability.

Pedestrian bridges over railway tracks not only provide connectivity within a neighbourhood but also a scenic element. The Kirkendall neighbourhood is one of Lower Hamilton's great assets, boasting short, walkable streets, architectural diversity and a railway which did not, until recently, divide the neighbourhood, but rather added its own character.

Having reviewed the first report in the Poulette / Pearl / Ray Pedestrian Bridge Master Plan, we must object to the consultant's recommendations of options to be carried forward.

Firstly, Option B, to allow further deterioration of the structure until removal is necessary, should not be considered. Any decision that could potentially remove this last remaining pedestrian crossing would be counter to the City's objectives. This option should be modified to include replacement of the bridge at whatever time it is deemed unsafe. The elimination of this crossing could also cause great inconvenience to less able-bodied residents of this neighbourhood such as seniors and children who walk to all destinations.

Secondly, TLC objects to the report's dismissal of bridges at Ray and Poulette Streets as redundant. The consultant claims that because of their proximity or 400m to the nearest existing crossing, the resultant increase in travel time of 3 minutes is acceptable. Consider the placement of full roadway bridges at Queen, Locke and Dundurn Streets. Their spacing is 1 km apart, or 1.2 minutes at the speed limit of 50km/h. We do not question the necessity of vehicular crossings at this frequency, but would however raise the point that the cost of pedestrian crossings is a minute fraction of that of vehicular crossings. The recently rebuilt Dundurn St. bridge, for example, cost $2.2M. One pedestrian bridge between Locke and Dundurn Streets, as stated by the consultant's report to the City, would cost one tenth that amount to build.

In 1895 when the TH&B rail line first cut through this neighbourhood, the City of Hamilton Bylaw No. 755 stipulated that bridges must be built at Garth (now Dundurn), Poulette, Locke, Pearl and Ray Streets - that is, every street the railway crossed before it entered the tunnel at Queen St. The transportation needs of this area's residents, primarily pedestrians, were accounted for. Given that Public Works aims to decrease automobile mode share while increasing walking and cycling mode share, it is only logical that our pedestrian infrastructure be at least as extensive as it was 100 years ago.

We trust that the elimination of the Pearl Street Bridge will not be considered by Public Works, and that the re-establishment of pedestrian connectivity throughout Kirkendall and elsewhere will be considered in future plans.


Jon Dalton, for Transportation for Liveable Communities

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