Mountain access will be shut down until Labour Day
By Gord Bowes, News staff
Get ready for a summer of fun on the west Mountain.
From Monday through the end of summer, the Queen Street hill will be closed while the mountain access designed over a century ago for horse and buggy traffic is reconstructed.
“Be prepared to be frustrated.,” said Coun. Terry Whitehead (west Mountain, Ward 8).
“It’s unfortunate ... but this construction is badly needed. It’s a safety issue.”
From Fennell Avenue down to Aberdeen Avenue, the Queen Street hill (also known as Beckett Drive) will be off limits to motorists for roughly three months.
The 20,000 drivers who normally use the Mountain access daily will have to use a different route to get to and fro the lower city.
The public works department suggests drivers use the Claremont Access or Jolley Cut, both of which have the capacity to handle more vehicles.
City staff suggest avoiding the James Mountain Road access (West 5th) as it will likely be congested during the closure.
“Without a doubt, at peak hours the West 5th access is going to be jammed and there will be extended waits,” said Whitehead.
The councillor, who noted he normally uses the Queen Street hill to get down to city hall, said he wants to set up digital signs telling drivers of the current wait time at the West 5th access.
Traffic signal timing will be modified at key intersections to allow smoother traffic flow during the construction period and staff will continue to monitor traffic flows and adjust signal timing as needed to alleviate congested areas.
Whitehead said along with other signage around the closure, he is hoping to get a digital sign on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway at the Garth Street exit. There will already be pressure on the Mountain accesses without drivers to find alternative routes through the city when traffic on the Linc or Highway 403 is slowed or diverted due to crashes.
The work itself if happening between Auchmar Road at the top of the hill to Amelia Street at the bottom before the road straightens into Queen Street proper.
Along with reconstruction of the road, other work to be done includes new retaining walls, drainage improvements and the widening of the sidewalk at the top of the hill near the escarpment stairs. Public works staff say safety measures will also be implemented: lane widths will be reduced to address speed mitigation and centreline rumble strips will be installed.
The Queen Street hill dates back to 1894 when farmer F.G. Beckett built the scenic roadway to connect the Mountain to the lower city.
The city and Smart Commute Hamilton will help commuters find alternative means of reaching their destinations during the closure. Staff will provide trip planning suggestions for alternate routes, transit, cycling, walking and carpooling; call 905-546-CITY (2489) or visit queenstreethillclosed.ca.