Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Railway bridges are falling down in Hamilton

You'd think that if a bridge carries a railway then it should be the railroad company that pays for repairs and/or replacement.    Not necessarily.   Hamilton has about 400 bridges across the vast city, many of them downloaded to the city years ago.   And there are seven, all of them for the steel wheels, where no one is sure who owns them.    Another, the underpass that carries Centennial Parkway away from the QEW, is a rail bridge but is actually owned by the city -- and is crumbling fast to the point where it will have to be replaced for at least $12 million, even more if a third line is in fact built for the extension of commuter rail to Saint Catherines.   It's supposed to be 85% to the city, but the older a bridge gets the more it costs to replace; guess who pays for that.

(A larger map of the railway bridges in question is here -- when we say Hamilton megacity this is what I'm talking about -- the inner city is mostly pedestrian friendly but the outer areas are vast distances and not served by any public transit at all; and infrastructure costs both in and out are paid by everyone.   One of the most notorious is Kenilworth, where four lanes narrow down to two on each side and it keeps flooding during major storms causing traffic tie-ups.)

So much air has been spent on amalgamation and deamalgamation (the latter of which will never, ever happen -- with the exception that maybe the northwest of Flamborough could go to Cambridge and the northeast of same to any of Burlington, Halton Hills or Puslinch -- or a split, based on telephone boundaries -- but that's it) that we have failed to spend the basic money to fix what we have.   It's outrageous that ownership hadn't been determined long ago.   And even so, I'd much rather have my tax dollars spent on fixing those bridges so we can improve freight and passenger rail, as well as eliminating all level crossings (with adequate flood protection) to speed up road traffic, including public transit ... rather than all the money we're spending just to keep the Tiger Cats in town (i.e. a new Ivor Wynne stadium or whatever it'll be called when the naming rights go up for sale.)

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