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Widen Highway 403 up and down the escarpment to help bring jobs to airport lands: Planners

Posted: October 2, 2017

City planners say congestion on the highway is hurting business, want the province to act

CBC News Posted: Sep 28, 2017 5:53 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 28, 2017 5:59 PM ET

City staff recommend asking the province to prioritize and expedite widening Highway 403 between the Linc and Main Street. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

Traffic congestion on Highway 403 between Highway 6 and Main Street is causing headaches for airport and cargo businesses in Hamilton.

That’s just one of the issues potentially holding back job growth and business health in the city, according to a new report heading for city councillors’ review next week.

‘All too often our industrial property is nothing more than an old pasture with a sign in front proclaiming the land ‘Industrial.”– Guy Paparella and Margaret Fazio, city planners 

The report is written by environment and growth planners at the city.

They want the province to expand Highway 403 “from two to three lanes between the Lincoln Alexander Parkway and Main Street both downbound and upbound as soon as practically possible.”

It’s one of two highway projects the city would like the province to prioritize to help its economic development efforts. They also recommend upgrading the Highway 5 and 6 interchange within the next five years.

“More and more concerns have been expressed by our airport operator and related courier (and) cargo businesses, regarding increased congestion along the Highway 403, between Highway 6 and Main Street,” the report states.

“This is creating major delays for goods movement, which negatively impacts their business operations.”

Currently, the highway is three lanes upbound after the Aberdeen Avenue on-ramp, but only two lanes down the escarpment.

The lands around the airport are a much hoped-for addition to Hamilton’s employment opportunities. The airport employment growth district (AEGD) is a 555-hectare urban boundary expansion that happened so the city could offer green space to industries.

The report looks at the amount of land available for businesses to operate and finds there are 40 hectares of “shovel ready” employment lands near the airport, with one 20 hectare parcel ready for sale.

“While it may appear that our community has lots of industrial property just waiting to be developed, all too often our industrial property is nothing more than an old pasture with a sign in front proclaiming the land “Industrial,'” the report says.

But in a world where companies ask cities to compete for where they should relocate to, having “shovel-ready” employment land can make the difference between winning and losing, the report states.

The highway-widening proposal was included in a provincial report several years ago cataloguing the transportation needs of the corridor between Niagara and Toronto.

This new report recommends the city request the Ministry of Transportation “prioritize and expedite” those proposed lane expansions.

With files from Samantha Craggs