Hamilton reworks truck route proposals

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City staff in Hamilton, Ont., have identified five alternatives for a proposed truck route master plan as they look to better manage the flow of heavy vehicles through a community that includes one of the few commercial ports in Ontario.

“Each of the different proposals have their own pros and cons,” says Lak Shoan, the Ontario Trucking Association’s director – policy and industry awareness programs. “With all the proposals there is going to be some form of increased transit times and operational costs – especially in certain segments.”

Hamilton truck route
(Map: City of Hamilton)

The proposed master plan includes significant limits on trucks with more than five axles and restricts travel through the downtown core. The rules would apply to any truck or trailer with a gross vehicle weight of more than 4,500 kg, and equipment making local deliveries would be required to take the shortest-possible path from designated truck routes.

An initial proposal was sidelined in late November, after dozens of delegations raised concerns during a meeting of the city’s Truck Route Subcommittee. Concerns raised by residents and community groups largely opposed trucks in residential areas.

Trucks were involved in 13 Hamilton traffic fatalities from 2014-18.

For its part, the OTA is looking to ensure city staff and politicians are aware of the current economic conditions faced by carriers affected by the rules.

“Carriers are dealing with the driver shortage, an increase in fuel prices, scarcity of equipment,” Shoan says. “This is creating a trickledown effect. These costs can’t be absorbed.”

While the proposals are specific to Hamilton, they reflect a growing mindset of planners in other communities. For example, OTA is also involved in ongoing discussions about a truck route in Beamsville, Ont.

“There’s an increasing focus, whether it’s large cities or urban centers, on making cities more livable,” Shoan says, referring to concerns raised about air and noise pollution alike.

Cities are reviewing truck routes or looking to establish them in the first place, and the trend is likely to continue, he adds.

The Hamilton proposals are scheduled to be presented to a truck group subcommittee on March 28 before being forwarded to council.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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