The Halifax Light Rail Alliance (HaLRA) aims to promote public awareness and discussion of light rail, also known as LRT. We are a citizens' group independent of any corporate or political influence. We advocate a tripartite strategy of light rail, transit-oriented development, and a greenbelt as a holistic mode of sustainable urban growth.
Over the past several decades, suburban development has ballooned in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Transportation infrastructure has not kept pace. Most residents commute by car, and traffic congestion is worsening every year. How should the city cope with growth? Car-oriented urban sprawl is fundamentally unsustainable in environmental, financial, and social terms.
To date, our approach has mainly comprised highway-building and relentless low-density urban sprawl. In 2011 city staff unveiled a billion-dollar highways program that The Coast called “a horrific idea [that will] utterly destroy any hope that Halifax will ever have an effective transit system.” Separately the provincial Department of Transportation has proposed numerous major highway-building projects in the Halifax area, and Halifax Harbour Bridges has recommended the construction of a third harbour crossing.
The price tag for planned and proposed highway projects stands at well over $2 billion. A third harbour crossing alone has been estimated to cost between $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion. At a time when crucial services like health and education are facing cuts, it is absurd that these band-aid solutions to our transportation woes are being seriously considered. We stand at a crossroads and must take this opportunity to reevaluate our approach to transportation planning.
As Halifax is underlaid by granite bedrock with little soil cover, tunneling is considered prohibitively expensive, difficult, and disruptive. Our proposed light rail network could be relatively inexpensive through construction nearly entirely on existing right-of-ways – alongside highways, on underused railway land, and through a power line corridor. The proposed stations serve major residential areas and centres of employment, and many sit in proximity to a great deal of underused land ripe for transit-oriented development. At the same time, Halifax should implement a greenbelt to help reign in sprawl and redirect growth to underused land in the urban area.
The purpose of this website is to promote discussion on higher-order transit in Halifax and the relationship between transportation, density, and sustainable urban growth.