• Working on the Railroads

    I’ve lived in London for more than 20 years. That whole time, city councils have been discussing ways to fix traffic woes presented by CP and CN railways that run through the city. Sometimes it seemed they were planning on a hope and a prayer that CN and CP would magically stop sending trains through London (and remember many of the traffic problems are the results poor planning decisions by the city as it grew around the tracks).

    I have a lot of respect for Councillor Jesse Helmer. He and I don’t always agree, but he was absolutely correct when he told the London Free Press this week that it is time to stop “stringing people along” on the idea that city hall can convince CP and CN to share tracks, or do anything else that will cut the train traffic in London (see: http://lfpress.com/news/local-news/rail-relocation-dreams-dashed-in-london-for-now).

    It is time face facts:

    1. The City has no legal power or authority to force the rail lines to move
    2. The rail companies don’t want to move and have no incentive to move. Both CN & CP are moving lots of freight on their lines
    3. Any potential move, even if the rail lines were interested, is expensive. The costs will run at least into the hundreds of millions of dollars
    4. There are also jobs attached to those rail lines in London. A move might mean those jobs leave too.

    And yet the current councillor for Ward 2 says he’s “not giving-up” and wants to keep asking CN and CP to move their rail lines. He’s been there 24 years and we are no further ahead in dealing with this challenge in our city.

    We need to stop hoping for change and start creating it. When it comes to traffic, it’s time for London to take its future in its own hands. Let’s solve the problem by building overpasses and underpasses where we need them to move people around those inconvenient tracks.

    Imagine how many overpasses and underpasses we could already have in place to eliminate the challenge if we’d focused on practical solutions instead of hopes and prayers for 20 years.

    The City of London has 91 at grade (aka level with the street, see map below) rail crossings. Do we need 91 over and under passes? No.

    Do we need a plan to start building over and underpasses on main routes to deal with the hold ups trains cause to cars and transit buses?  Yes, we do.

    We need someone representing Ward 2 down at London City Hall, who isn’t going to spend 4 more years “stringing people along” in the hope a rail line move is pending. We need someone who will get working with fellow councillors and staff to develop a priority list of locations we need to get building over and underpasses at.

    Adelaide Street is already in process and that’s a good thing.

    Next on the list should be Clarke Road just north of Dundas St. at the edge of Ward 2.  It’s time east London is at the top of the do-to list, not the bottom (remember the 18 year battle for a community centre?). To make that happen, Ward 2 needs a councillor committed to getting to work and getting shovels in the ground. As your new councillor for Ward 2, this is something you can count on from me  (see: https://shawnlewis.ca/campaign-platform/).

    (UPDATE: May 29th from the London Free Press: http://lfpress.com/news/local-news/councillors-try-to-put-rail-relocation-to-rest)

    map of railway crossings in London.

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