There is no doubt that ailing infrastructure is a real problem for many municipalities. However, attaching the problem to LRT may result in casting LRT as a misdirected solution. Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. If it proceeds with LRT as its choice, the fact that it will involve access to and replacement of a selected 11km stretch of infrastructure is incidental.
While allowing that some incidental benefits would result, by virtue of access and repair/replacement/and enhancement (in some cases) of infrastructure and technological features, the thirst to address these issues which, arguably should have been done as part of good statescraft and governance, may be having the adverse affect of sending LRT adrift.
As part of Tuesday's meeting, a certain degree of strain was apparent in efforts to cast LRT as an opportunity for replacing and upgrading underground pipes, allowing for upgrades in utility technologies and even a reference to the mitigation of storms caused by climate change. Staff did an excellent job of responding forthrightly to questions concerning auxiliary benefits a LRT implementation could offer.
For example, staff indicated that the pipes along the stretch were in pretty good shape and one staffer stated that they were 20 years in, on a 100 hundred year life expectancy. Having said that, the staffer also allowed for the opportunity of upgrading the pipe to a bigger capacity.
And while we would not dismiss that this type of implementation, based on its degree of penetration of existing infrastructure, can provide for auxiliary benefits albeit confined to an 11km stretch that may, in some cases, have a greater city wide impact (but not necessarily the case in all instances), treating LRT as salvific in this context, can serve to make people wonder about whether we are considering its implementation for the right reasons.
Hamilton is attempting to find the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs. We sincerely hope that it finds the right transit solution for its immediate and future needs.