Premier announces 1B for Hamilton LRT

Additional Video: Extended Morning Live coverage of Wynne’s announcement: (Updated)An historic day today in Hamilton as the province announces $1 billion to fully fund light rail transit.Premier Kathleen Wynne came to McMaster University this morning where she made the announcement. The money will be used to fund 100 percent of the capital costs of building an LRT line. The rail line will run from McMaster University, east on Main and West on King, to the Queenston traffic circle.Wynne says construction on the new LRT will begin in 2019, and it will connect directly to the new West Harbour GO train station that will open this summer. She adds the province will continue talks with the city about extending the LRT line another three kilometres east to Eastgate Square.“Decades ago, government investments in ports, canals and railroads helped bring steeldtown into an era of industrial prosperity. Today we need infrastructure that drives Hamilton’s prosperity in the 21-st century economy, we need Hamilton to remain an important driver of our regional and provincial economy, and a place where people can continue to find more opportunity, and more security in life.”“Transit connects the people of Hamilton to each other and to people of the GTHA, So it’s my great pleasure to announce today the Ontario government will be providing up to $1 billion to fund the building of new light rail transit.”The president and CEO of Metrolinx, Bruce McCuaig says the company will work with the city to finalize plans and construction.“The most important thing we are going to be doing immediately is sitting down with the city of Hamilton to talk about things like negotiating a master agreement since we are going to be building this on city streets and we will have to work very very closely with the city and all the communities that abut those streets.”“We’ll need to finalize the planning design for the corridor, where the station locations are, the kind of service that we’ll see, and ultimately we are looking at procuring this going to the marketplace to get bidders to bid on the project in 2017 and to start construction in 2019. ”The province also announced plans to improve GO service and extend the GO Lakeshore West train service to a new stop at Centennial Parkway, which is expected to be completed by 2019.The funding is part of the Liberal government’s planned $30 billion, 10 year plan to invest in public transit and otherinfrastructure projects, with just over half the money dedicated to the Toronto-to-Hamilton corridor.Opinion’s always been divided over LRT, and today’s funding announcement will no doubt create more controversy. It depends on who you talk to and where they live.Most people downtown are excited about it. They think it will make their trip to and from work quicker. “I just came from the east end, and I was on the B-Line bus and it still took me 20 minutes on the bus. That’s supposed to be the fast bus, and it wasn’t that fast so, run through the whole city? That would be good.”“I am not sure what to make of it. Do we need LRT in the city? I am not sure. The bus system works pretty good as is.”“Absolutely not. Put a couple more buses on the rouets or whatever else, but born and raised in this city and we don’t need nothing like that.”But if you come to places like Waterdown, many don’t think it is a good idea. They think it will increase their taxes.“The LRT is a very big project for Hamilton and I am not quite sure that we are ready for it, as it’s only from downtown to possibly Eastgate.”This project will take years to build and that means years of construction delays and years of torn up roads and that could affect local businesses along Main and King Sts, but Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger says the city would do everything to make sure they are impacted as little as possible.“I don’t think it has been disrupted in every part of the corridor for 10 years. Whenever we do road reconstruction it has to happen, we know it has to happen. That’s a long-term benefit, so it’s short-term pain for long-term gain.”“We will do everything possible to ensure that we are less disruptive as possible.”Ward 1 councillor Aidan Johnson calls it great news. “This is going to be an economic boom for the whole of Hamilton. The west will particularly benefit. We will connect McMaster to the downtown of the city.”

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