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Hamilton LRT project gets second chance with $3.4B in backing from feds, province

May 13, 2021   David Kennedy

A rending of the light rail line before its cancellation in 2019. PHOTO: Infrastructure Ontario

Roughly a year and a half after it was cancelled, a costlier incarnation of the Hamilton Light Rail Transit project is back on track.

The federal and provincial governments announced $3.4 billion in funding for the 17-stop line May 13, reviving the job the Ontario government had deemed too expensive while heaping blame on the previous government for misrepresenting its cost.

“I’m very happy that the federal government is stepping up with a $1.7 billion federal investment to support the full LRT line in Hamilton from McMaster University to Eastgate at Centennial Park,” said Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, in a release. “This investment in the only shovel ready major transit project in Hamilton, will help kickstart the economy and create good jobs.”

The abrupt cancellation of the project in December 2019 generated swift blowback in Hamilton. The provincial government, meanwhile, said the cost for the project had ballooned from an expected $1 billion to as much as $5.5 billion. It said it would stick to its billion-dollar funding commitment and look at alternative ways to spend the money in the city. A panel, formed to determine the best course of action, found either an LRT or bus rapid transit system was needed, and the Ontario government began calling on Ottawa to cover a portion of the project costs this February.

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A map of the route. Click to enlarge. PHOTO: Metrolinx

Each level of government will spend $1.7 billion on the line, building on a $10.7 billion funding agreement for four Toronto area subway and LRT projects announced earlier this week. The new Hamilton light rail project will run 14 kilometres, from McMaster University to Eastgate Square, with a connection to the GO Transit station in the city’s downtown.

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s minister of Transportation, said with the project being shovel-ready, the aim is to get work underway as soon as possible.

The infrastructure project is expected to create thousands of jobs during construction.


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