News

Hart Solomon Retires as Head of Traffic Engineering

By RTH Staff
Published August 05, 2011

Hart Solomon, the head of traffic engineering and operations in the City's Public Works Department, has just retired. Kelly Anderson, spokesperson for Public Works, confirmed in an email that Mr. Solomon's last day was Friday.

Solomon worked for the City of Hamilton for 33 years and has been the head of traffic engineering since Amalgamation in 2001. He has also served as an adviser to the Transportation Association of Canada on developing standards for pedestrian crossings.

Hamilton's traffic engineering office has often been criticized for a tendency to prioritize automobile traffic flow over other transportation modes, including walking, cycling and transit; and particularly for its unyielding commitment to maintain Hamilton's one-way thoroughfares, particularly Main Street and Cannon Street.

With Solomon's retirement, the City has not yet appointed a successor.

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By 1 Kings 3:28 (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 12:47:17

And all Israel heard of the judgment which Solomon had judged; and they feared Solomon: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 14:42:56 in reply to Comment 67479

Didn't Solomon end up worshiping idols and get afflicted with boils or something?

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By I am traffic too! (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 12:53:21

"...a tendency to prioritize automobile traffic flow over other transportation modes..." that's putting it mildly, I remember arguing with one of Hart's engineers about Cannon Street and he said, "Look it's simple, traffic wants to flow" I said "What about me? I'm traffic too!" and he said there's already a sidewalk, what else do I need. I sure hope they hire an outside replacement.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 13:13:06 in reply to Comment 67480

I sure hope they hire an outside replacement.

Or at least some one who lives with in walking distance of the job ... perhaps a lobbyng effort to remove this positions free parking spot would be a good place to start !

Comment edited by rednic on 2011-08-05 13:13:34

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 05, 2011 at 13:41:49 in reply to Comment 67484

Or at least some one who lives with in walking distance of the job...

Right.

Because this is a factor in hiring someone. As opposed to their abilities. Let's not get someone as Head of Traffic Engineering who has a progressive view of traffic's place in a modern, urban world, let's look at whether or not they know the secret handshake.

I'm going to guess that the man's in his 60s. Just given the tiny amount of info in this article (granted, it's from one bias), it's pretty clear on which side he buttered his bread. So no surprises where his priorities have been.

Maybe we should request a change of title for the position. Maybe we could ease towards a better situation by starting there?

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 13:41:35

Shocking revelation that Solomon was consulted on the development of standards for pedestrian crossings. Does anyone even know how many pedestrian (only) crossings there are in Hamilton? Could there even be a hundred, in total, city-wide?

Another question: Just what is the legal status of those non-signalized pairs of white lines that occasionally jump out at you as you drive through the city?

Many times I see pedestrians confidently walking across the street while surprised and confused drivers come screeching to a halt (or not, narrowly missing the similarly puzzled pedestrians), finally stopping inside the box formed by the mysterious white lines.

I ask everyone I can, but nobody seems to know. One person suggested that they become crosswalks only in the presence of a uniformed crossing guard. If these 'crosswalks' disappear when not staffed, then wouldn't some signage to that effect be in order?

It boggles the mind to think that this man would have been consulted on pedestrian crossings. Reading the article, is he an audiologist too, or something? Maybe he is the genius creator of the 'beady-eyes' add-on device found at Dundurn and King, and a few other places.

On a positive note, I have spied at least four newly-installed signalized pedestrian-only crosswalks in the city, poised for activation: Dundurn North, two on King St. W. and I think one on Ottawa St.

With his retirement, can these now be activated?

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 14:29:39

Good question about the no-signal painted cross walks. There used to be one in Westdale near at the intersection of King / Paisley. I remember many evil glares from drivers as I attempted to walk across from My Dog Joe to CIBC. I see that the lines have been removed, which removes all doubt as to which mode of traffic has priority. Why can't we use those yellow poles that say "yield to pedestrians" in such areas? I've only ever seen these in shopping districts in New York and New England.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 05, 2011 at 14:40:53 in reply to Comment 67489

There are spots where the city will pull out the stops for pedestrians. For example, Columbia International College has a wonderful "Yield to Pedestrians" sign on the 403 onramp that divides its residences from its offices.

Also, here at Hamilton General, we have a pedestrian-crossing light at Wellington and our internal roadway.

And let's not forget the crossing on the middle of Longwood that attaches the MIP to its parking lot.

Dofasco's offices on Burlington St. sport their own lighted crossing connecting their office building to their parking lot. Just like MIP, there's no actual intersection nearby.

So the city provides crossings to large local businesses that need to connect their campus together.

Just not for people who actually live here.

edit: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=columbia+i...

THIS. This thing right here. I want this on every little highway-style slit-ramp in the city that has a crosswalk on it. That little "Yield TO PEDESTRIANS" sign. And yet the only time I've ever seen one is there for Columbia International College. It's a freaking sign, how much would it cost to put one up elsewhere? And it's not like it would slow down traffic if there weren't pedestrians.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-08-05 14:47:24

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 15:12:21

In response to the crosswalk question, Hart himself told me that he had decided to only permit crosswalks at signalized intersections (i.e. those with a traffic light or stop sign), based on his interpretation of the Highway Traffic Act and the associated regulations. He considered the existing crosswalks were unsafe and could expose the city to legal action if someone were hurt.

The signs warning motorists of the crosswalk were removed from the many existing non-signalized crosswalks, and the pavement markings were simply allowed to fade.

This always struck me as a very dangerous solution, as the lines give the pedestrian the impression there is still a crosswalk while the absence of signs suggests to motorists there isn't. They could have at least ground off the pavement markings!

Of course, it also sets the bar very high for a crosswalk, as the only solution on busy roads is now a pedestrian activated traffic light, which costs about $80,000-$100,000 to install.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2011-08-05 15:15:42

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By mikeyj (registered) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 15:13:46

Shockingly and despite evidence to the contrary, I have it on good authority that Hart is actually an avid cyclist.

But apparently he has never actually used his pedals...

Hart Solomon relies on truck drafts and his thorough knowledge of Hamilton's stoplight sequencing to let traffic flow carry him effortlessly wherever he cycles. #NotIntendedToBeaFactualStatement

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 05, 2011 at 15:35:24

The "ghost cross walks" are everywhere. Even within a block of city hall. I'd been thinking of doing a photo tour, but I wouldn't know where to start or stop.

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By Lance (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2011 at 15:55:11

Hart in fact vacations in places like France where he can cycle the countryside like those in the Tour but has a disdain for cyclists in our city who want to balance out the roads a bit with dedicated lanes. Sigh.

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By Heartwarm (anonymous) | Posted August 06, 2011 at 11:23:51

Hart Solomon is a good guy. His job was to look after all interests and not just one particular interest. If the city can find someone as well qualified as he, we will be fortunate.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 06, 2011 at 14:43:14 in reply to Comment 67549

His job was to look after all interests and not just one particular interest.

I sure hope not. Because if that is truly what his job was then he failed miserably.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 06, 2011 at 13:34:06

Great visionary? Or was he a monster lurking in the bowels of city hall? His legacy is what will matter.

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