Monday, August 11, 2008

sanity is a two way street...

City shifts into drive on 2-way streets

The Hamilton Spectator, (Aug 8, 2008)

The city is moving ahead with its original plan to convert several more downtown streets from one-way to two-way.

With council's sign-off, city staff will also review the conversions already done on the south legs of James and John streets to see if they can improve traffic flow.

The two arteries are a regular source of frustration for Mountain residents, who view the conversions as "failures," said Councillor Scott Duvall.

But downtown Councillor Bob Bratina urged his colleagues not to let issues with the two streets hold up an overall transportation plan he believes will help revive the downtown.

"I think we've wasted a lot of time getting to this point."

He noted Main Street, Hamilton's most prized one-way street with its string of green lights, will remain unchanged.

The city's downtown master plan was stalled last month when a group of councillors raised concerns about the necessity and expense of converting several downtown streets.

The plan calls for the conversion of York Boulevard and Wilson Street, Park and MacNab streets and King William, Rebecca and Hess streets. City staff believe the changes will help make the core more pedestrian friendly.

Plans for several downtown projects, including the new farmers' market and library, were put on hold until council reaffirmed the plan originally approved in 2001.

Councillor Terry Whitehead said he's still skeptical the changes will lead to economic spinoffs but agreed to endorse the plan.

"I'm going to support it cautiously," Whitehead said.

Councillors Chad Collins and David Mitchell remained in opposition to it.

"I honestly believe the investment could be better spent elsewhere," said Collins.

The conversions will mainly take place as part of larger construction project. In isolation, the seven conversions will cost roughly $1 million.

Councillors will still have an opportunity to decide how quickly the conversions occur each year during capital budget deliberations.


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