Every stretch and span on GO train corridors has a history and story to tell, as major advances and improvements are made on the Ontario transit lines. And one iconic Hamilton bridge, after years of loyal service, is getting a whole new lease on life.
To many rail passengers, it’s a bridge span that’s barely noticeable as their GO train moves quickly underneath.
But to locals, as well as the future of GO Transit service on a vital line, it’s an important link. Now, Hamilton’s historic John Street Bridge is getting a significant new lease on life. The rebuild effort amounts to some very heavy lifting that will allow the structure to live – and thrive – on.
The rail corridor that cuts through Hamilton, north of Barton St., is CN’s Grimsby Subdivision. It meets CN’s Oakville Subdivision – known in the GO Transit world as the Lakeshore West Line – at James Street North to the west, and stretches all the way to Niagara Falls to the east.
This is the corridor GO Transit uses to service West Harbour, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls stations, and will one day service the future Confederation and Grimsby stations.
The John Street Bridge spans over the corridor just east of West Harbour GO Station and Liuna Station, and is one of many important connections between residential neighbourhoods that are separated by the railway. It connects the North End and Beasley neighbourhoods, which make up part of the downtown and Bayfront areas of Hamilton’s lower city.
Many of these bridges were built long before delivering more GO service to Hamilton and Niagara came into focus. Doing it now is a complex undertaking and it requires extensive investment in new track and supporting infrastructure. But, that can only be built if there is enough room for it.
The John Street Bridge structure was nearing the end of its lifecycle, and a full replacement was required. Metrolinx is working with CN and the City of Hamilton to replace the entire bridge. The new design includes a completely new bridge structure with new abutments, four new spans made up of 11 individual pre-cast concrete girders, new approach slabs, road surface infrastructure, sidewalks and landscaping.
But, the new bridge will also provide room within the corridor for an additional track toward Stoney Creek and Niagara in the future. The curvature of the new bridge deck will provide more vertical clearance underneath it.
This work requires John Street to be closed between Murray and Strachan streets for the duration of the project. All work is being completed adjacent to and above live tracks.
There are a number of bridges and crossings along this corridor that will require further investment. Metrolinx is working closely with rail partners CN on delivering the required infrastructure and finalizing long-terms service agreements to bring more service to the communities served in Hamilton and on to Niagara Falls.
This section of John Street will reopen by the end of the year.
Story by Robert Pasiak, Metrolinx senior advisor, communications and community relations.