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Central witness in Red Hill inquiry scheduled for five days of testimony

Central witness in Red Hill inquiry scheduled for five days of testimony

Gary Moore, the man who is emerging as the central figure in the Red Hill Parkway inquiry, was on the stand Friday and will be testifying for up to four days again this week. Moore oversaw design and construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and before that, the LINC. Nearly every witness who has appeared thus far has been asked to either describe their interactions with Moore or his management style. Moore has been described as “blunt”, “direct” and someone who “questions.”

Moore testified that his job was to oversee the design and construction of the road, at which point the road would become the responsibility of the City’s traffic operations department, but in fact inquiry documents show Moore was very much involved in decisions about the road years after it was turned over to the operations department. The documents also show some resentment by Traffic operations over Moore’s continuing involvement in Red Hill decision-making.

By 2013, the number of fatal accidents on the Red Hill was becoming a public issue in the media and with members of Hamilton Council who were fielding constituents’ concerns about the safety of the road. Councillor Chad Collins got the ball rolling, by writing to council colleagues saying, “Staff has consistently advised that they’ve designed the road to the highest standards. While that might be the case, I have received numerous requests to improve the area, especially the lane markings. I’ve attached a copy of a motion I’d like to put to PW that formally requests staff to investigate the options that might help us improve the safe travel of motorists along this stretch of road.”

The motion to conduct a safety audit was passed at Council and the consultant CIMA was engaged to conduct a comprehensive safety review that included lighting, signage and other items, The scope even allowed some study of design elements of the road.

At the same time as the CIMA project was being launched, Moore commissioned another consultant, Golder, to conduct a five-year evaluation of the Red Hill pavement—an evaluation that would include friction testing. That friction testing was ultimately subcontracted to Tradewind. Moore told the inquiry Friday that he did not tell traffic operations about the work he had commissioned because he “did not see the linkage” between what CIMA was doing and the Golder pavement evaluation, nor was Golder aware of the CIMA project as Dr. Ludomir Uzarowski, formerly of Golder, has previously testified. Later, it appears the city Traffic department did become aware of the Golder testing.

While technically, the Red Hill Valley Parkway in 2013 was no longer his responsibility. Moore was shown a draft of the CIMA Red Hill safety report. Among other things the report recommended lighting improvements on some of the Red Hill ramps. Before the draft was submitted, Brian Malone of CIMA wanted to know if they should include lighting in the draft, noting, “We need to discuss the lighting. Is it in scope or not? As written, it’s a hand grenade that will go off in the City’s hands.”  Malone was aware of the sensitivity regarding lighting because he had met with Gary Moore a few weeks earlier where the lighting issue was discussed and had golfed with him during the time the report was being finalized. It appears the Traffic Department who had hired CIMA were not aware that CIMA’s Malone had planned to meet with Moore to discuss lighting. The head of traffic operations, Martin White wrote to a colleague in an email, “off the record I think he (Moore) even spoke to CIMA,” suggesting the meeting with Moore was not known to Traffic staff when it happened.

In any event, references to the need for lighting were considerably softened, but even with that, staff emails show Moore’s continuing objection to the report’s references to lighting. In his testimony Friday, Moore downplayed his objections to adding lighting, saying, “I don’t know why they would say I was not happy with the report.” Adding that his only concern was that adding lighting would go contrary to the original Environmental Assessment, which he continued to insist put severe restrictions on the amount of lighting allowed in the valley, owing to concerns about wildlife and light pollution in adjacent homes.

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