The removal of large trucks from Hamilton’s downtown moved a step closer to reality with the unanimous approval by the Public Works Committee of a truck route plan that would force large trucks to use Burlington Street and either the QEW or the Linc-Red Hill combo to enter and exit the industrial area. The issue of large trucks in the downtown core has been debated by Hamilton councils for decades without resolution. Councillor Tom Jackson pointed out that controversial construction of the Red Hill and The Lincoln Alexander Expressway were justified at the time as a possible way of relieving truck congestion on city streets. The Red Hill Expressway was completed in 2007, but it took another 15 years for the truck route policy to catch up with the availability of an alternative.
From the trucking perspective the issue was how to get trucks, largely serving the food processing plants, in and out of Hamilton from points west of Hamilton. Hamilton’s grain and oil processing facilities are clustered on Burlington Street between Wellington and Sherman. Instead of using Main Street and Cannon to enter and exit Hamilton, They will now have to use the 403-Linc-Red Hill combination to reach Burlington Street. The new route is referred to as a ring-road network. The change will add extra kilometers to the trip for these vehicles which often consist of a tractor pulling a train of two grain hoppers. Industry representatives argued that the extra time and mileage would add to the cost of food, but it was clear in the discussion at committee that the time for change had come. Even Clr. Lloyd Ferguson who initially argued for at least one route through the city westerly acknowledged that safety had to take precedence over other considerations. With the 9-0 vote at committee, council ratification is assured.
The decision doesn’t spell the end of truck traffic in the downtown. Vesicles of up to four axles can still use city streets, and large trucks making deliveries can as well, but they must use the shortest route possible to return to the ring road network. Staff say implementation will happen in stages.