Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla’s proposal the city look at charging a toll to “out-of-town” commercial trucks that use the Red Hill Valley Parkway and Lincoln Alexander Expressway has been rejected.
The motion to have staff study the costs and feasibility of such a program was narrowly defeated by Hamilton City Council by a vote of 7-6.
Opponents said that even discussing such a plan would have a “chilling effect” on businesses looking to invest in Hamilton. Additionally, they pointed out that a toll would simply reroute trucks onto busy city streets like Centennial Parkway and Rymal Road.
The sentiments echo some of the concerns previously expressed by OTA president David Bradley in a recent letter to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
Bradley, who said the proposal was simply a “tax on trade” pointed out the Expressway was specifically designed as a bypass route linking the commercial trade from the Niagara Region via the Queen Elizabeth Way with the Windsor-Detroit Gateway via Highways 403 and 401.
“It has also served to spur development in Hamilton and region. So, any discussion of tolls should be very carefully considered in terms of its overall economic impact,” Bradley warned.
Bradley also questioned whether the proper technology even exists to be able to distinguish, for tolling purposes, between local commercial vehicles and those that are transiting through the region.
“The only way such a determination could be made would be to set up toll booths and have the truck physically stop so that the toll collector could examine the driver’s bills of lading. This would certainly slow goods movement and increase congestion for all vehicles. One only need to look at the experience at our borders in recent years to see what happens when that sort of interaction takes place.”