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Hamilton to repave Red Hill and Linc, but rejects installing median barriers

Posted: January 18, 2018

by Kevin Werner  Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton will begin repaving both the Red Hill Valley Parkway (top) and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway in 2018, which will take until 2021. City staff rejected suggestions from councillors and the public to install median barriers along both roadways. – By Kevin Werner, HCN/file photo

The Red Hill Valley Parkway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway are scheduled to be repaved over a three-year period starting in 2018 in an effort to improve safety on both roadways.

But Hamilton traffic officials maintain that installing median barriers along both parkways should only be done when they are expanded to six lanes.

Gary Moore, director of engineering, told members of the public works committee Jan. 15 that half of the Red Hill Valley Parkway will be repaved in 2018, with the other half done in 2019, while the Lincoln Alexander Parkway will be repaved in 2020 and 2021.

He said the city is examining new technology to reduce the number of weekends both roadways would have to close for the repaving, while also saving costs. The technology has been used in British Columbia and is now being tested near Thunder Bay. Using current technology, Moore said the roadways could be closed to traffic for up to eight weekends.

The technology involves a train of machines that moves over the asphalt heating it then scraping the material down to 50 millimetres, mixing it with new material and then returning it to the road.

When the Red Hill Valley was constructed it was the first one in Ontario to use perpetual pavement that involves multiple layers in an effort to extend the life of the road. The Lincoln Alexander Parkway, which wasn’t built with the same design, was last repaved in 2011. The Red Hill opened in 2007.

Martin White, traffic operations manager, said the city will incorporate cats’ eyes reflectors and shoulder rumble strips into the paving to improve driver safety.

But White said further safety measures, such as installing median barriers, do not reduce collisions. And it would be too costly to install median barriers, especially when Hamilton and the province are looking at expanding the roadways to six lanes, and adding lanes to the QEW and Highway 403. An environmental assessment is already completed that will allow the Red Hill widening, said Moore.

He also said the cost to install the barriers then removing them could be exceedingly expensive.

Provincial officials have stated that Highway 403 and the QEW have been identified to have their lanes widened by one lane per direction. Further review and approvals are still needed before the projects will move forward.

Some councillors, such as Stoney Creek’s Doug Conley, have called on the city to install the barriers in an effort to reduce crossover crashes.

“We definitely need improvements,” said Conley, adding residents have been urging the city to do something about the Red Hill. “I get lots of calls asking why are you not making it safer?”

A delegation of families of victims of crashes along the roadways appeared before councillors last October pleading with them to install median barriers. They said the city is focusing too much on driver behaviour and not enough on installing the barriers, which they argue would have saved their loved ones’ lives if they had been installed.

But crossover crashes are only a small percentage of the overall collisions along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway at five per cent and the Red Hill Valley Parkway at three per cent, a city staff report states.

Crossover crashes, though, are 50 per cent of the dozen fatalities on the two roadways.

There have been 11 deaths in motor vehicle accidents on both roadways over the last five years.

“Crossover collisions are minimal,” said White. “We have a better collision rate than (other highways). Barricades will not address the problem.

White said high rates of speed, distracted driving, following too close are some of the major factors contributing to the collisions on the roads

“There is no evidence that a barrier is warranted,” said Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla. “It has everything to do with driving behaviour.”

White said the city is looking at other safety improvements along the Linc and Red Hill including looking at a design for a queue end warning system to notify motorists when slower moving traffic is ahead, improvements in lighting, continuing traffic counts and increased police enforcement.

The city has already spent thousands of dollars installing various safety measures over the last few years, including cats’ eyes reflectors from Greenhill to Dartnall along the Red Hill Valley Parkway in 2015, and rumble strips were incorporated into both sides of the parkway for a total cost of over half a million dollars.

The city also installed large signs that identify the 90 kilometre per hour speed limit.

The measures were part of a serious of recommendations from a 2015 report the city produced after the deaths of Jordyn Hastings and Olivia Smosarski when their vehicle crossed the grassy Red Hill median near Greenhill Avenue and slammed into an oncoming minivan.

White said, though, that his staff will be monitoring traffic patterns once a series of digital advertising signs are installed along the Lincoln Alexander Parkway from Ancaster to the top of the Red Hill. Councillors late last year approved the signage. The signs are scheduled to be installed in 2018