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Construction to begin in 2022 as province awards contract for Bradford Bypass bridge

Bridge to be built at Yonge between 8th and 9th Lines, with an expected completion date of late fall 2024

York-Simcoe MPP and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney was in Bradford this morning to announce the next steps in the building of the Bradford Bypass, a four-lane, 16.2-km link connecting Highways 400 and 404. 

“Today's announcement is about getting the work done in a coordinated way that will help streamline the work that is already in place," said Mulroney. 

The provincial government has awarded a contract to Brennan Paving and Construction Ltd. to design and construct a bridge crossing for the Bradford Bypass at County Road 4 (Yonge Street) between the 8th and 9th Lines that will cross over the future Bradford Bypass. The scope of the project will also include the widening of County Road 4 from two to four lanes.

Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin in late 2022 with an expected completion date by late fall 2024.

“A province that is growing as fast as ours needs a modern transportation system to support it and that is why our government is saying ‘yes’ to finally building badly needed highways like the Bradford Bypass,” said Mulroney. “Awarding the contract to build the bridge for the Bradford Bypass brings us another step closer to getting shovels into the ground on this critical project – one that local communities have been asking to get built for decades.”

The province says an agreement has been signed to better coordinate the construction of the project.

"This approach just makes sense," said Mulroney. "It will save taxpayer dollars, avoid throw-away costs, optimize the work required to improve local gridlock and reduce any potential rescheduling conflicts with the construction of the Bradford Bypass."

Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, members of council and East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson were on site at the Town of Bradford's Transportation Services offices for this morning's announcement.

“The Bradford Bypass will unlock employment lands and lock in Bradford's urban boundary, ensuring that we grow in a smart, sustainable, compound way. Our business community, our manufacturers, as well as for our workers that are commuting back and forth to work will be able to spend more time at home with their children," said Keffer. 

“It is so important for us to build communities that are safe and where traffic is not congested. Connecting the 400-404 is an investment that will connect communities, reduce gridlock, and grow our economy," added Hackson. "Last fall I applauded the provincial government for forging ahead with the 400-404 bypass and today is an important step in that journey."

She noted how East Gwillimbury's population is growing and, with that, infrastructure like the bypass is "critical."

"According to Census Canada, East Gwillimbury is the fastest growing municipality with a 44 per cent increase in population from 2016 to 2021," she said. 

Bradford West Gwillimbury Councillor Jonathan Scott, who sits on the town's downtown revitalization committee, says the bypass will help alleviate congestion from the downtown core. 

“The Bradford Bypass is integral to managing the growth that has already occurred in our region, and will allow us to dramatically improve downtown Bradford into a pedestrianized shopping and dining district," he said. 

The highway has become a topic of controversy, with environmental groups and Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner calling for the cancellation of the project, calling it "a climate and economic disaster."

In a news release this morning from the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, executive director Claire Malcolmson called highways the "gateway drug for sprawl."

"Developers own over 3,000 acres of land around this highway, waiting for the green light to destroy more farmland and wetlands," she said. "York Region is planning on destroying 24,589 acres of farmland for new development by 2051, and the bypass would facilitate the worst of this sprawl in East Gwillimbury. Supporting the bypass is contrary to building compact and affordable housing, a healthy Lake Simcoe, a productive agriculture sector and climate action."

In February, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada announced it would not revisit its decision to deny a federal impact assessment designation for the Bradford Bypass. In May 2021, the agency advised the minister that the Bradford Bypass' potential for adverse effects would be limited through project design, the application of standard mitigation measures and through existing federal and provincial regulatory processes. 

In response, seven environmental groups recently launched a lawsuit against the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, over his decision not to designate a federal impact assessment for the Bradford Bypass. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada said the agency and the minister are aware of the lawsuit and the matter is now before the courts. 

A project-specific assessment for the bypass of environmental impacts in accordance with Ontario Regulation 697/21 for the project is underway and is expected to be completed by December 2022.

The government has invested approximately $2.6 billion in funding for the 2021-22 Ontario Highways Program, which features more than 580 expansion and rehabilitation projects, including the Bradford Bypass.