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Tentative step to exploring widening of Red Hill-Linc

Tentative step to exploring widening of Red Hill-Linc

Hamilton Council has voted to take the first steps towards exploring the expansion of the Red Hill-Linc to six lanes. It’s a very preliminary step that requires consultation through the Joint Stewardship Board with the Haudenosaunee First Nation. The Joint Board was established prior to the approval of the Red Hill expressway in order to resolve jurisdictional issues with First Nations communities. The deal brought to an end sit ins and encampments that threatened to stall construction.

Any expansion of the Red Hill-Linc will have to be coordinated with capacity expansions being considered by the province to the 403 and the QEW. Councillor Lloyd Ferguson pointed out last week that expanding the Red Hill-Linc without improving traffic flow at the two pinch points where the system connects with the provincial 400-series highways would only exacerbate congestion. The province has announced preliminary exploration of 403 widening, and its long-term plan is to widen the QEW.

This same issue had triggered a testy exchange last week between Clr. Merulla who sponsored the expansion proposal and councillor Maureen Wilson following Council’s approval of a truck route plan that would take heavy trucks off residential streets in the lower city and have them double back, in some cases easterly, on Burlington Street and onto the Red Hill- Linc. Wilson expressed concern about widening the city expressways, and Merulla argued the expansion had to be considered now that trucks were being diverted from lower city streets.

Councillor John-Paul Danko sought to amend the Merulla proposal by inserting language suggesting a range of options for dealing with congestion were available, but Councillor Brad Clark objected to   that saying it is critical to be straight with the first nations partners and if the goal is exploring widening the expressway be straight about it. In addition, as staff pointed out any work of this scope would have to go through a full environmental assessment where need, alternatives and environmental mitigation would all get a thorough airing. The Merulla proposal passed 10 to 2 with only Clrs. Wilson and Nann opposed.

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