Friday, July 11, 2008

downtown: no two ways about it?

TLC will be responding to this news item with a letter to council shortly, with a call to support staff on the need for one way to two way conversions downtown:

Downtown plans stall on road conversions
Nicole Macintyre, The Hamilton Spectator (Jul 11, 2008)

The plan to convert several downtown one-way streets to two-way is on hold.

Council threw out the city's downtown transportation master plan yesterday in a contentious split vote that sent staff scrambling. They reversed their decision moments later to allow more debate at a later meeting.

Several councillors say they don't want to kill the entire plan, which was approved in 2001, but can't agree to planned road conversions.

The plan calls for the conversion of York Boulevard and Wilson Street, Park and MacNab streets, Hughson and Hess streets, and King William and Rebecca streets.

Councillor Terry Whitehead said he doesn't support York Boulevard being converted as part of the renovation of the central library and the farmer's market.

The street must be replaced anyway to fix underground services, but the two-way conversion will cost upwards of an extra $750,000.

The planned streetscape may look nicer, but it won't generate new tax dollars, said Whitehead.

"We're making big investments and getting nothing in return."

But Councillor Bob Bratina argues businesses won't relocate to the street as long as it is a "freeway."

He noted if one-way streets are such a benefit, he'll request they be installed on the Mountain.

"Let's make Upper James one way."

He was outraged council originally shot down the entire plan, which would have stalled several downtown initiatives, including removing buses from Gore Park. Each street conversion was planned to generate economic and neighbourhood benefits, added Bratina.

"This is a carefully developed plan."

But councillors, who opposed the conversions, say they felt they had no option but to oppose the entire plan.

Councillor Brad Clark said more research and time is needed to determine if the conversions on John and James streets have been successful.

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