Early work on the Bradford Bypass could start as soon as fall 2021, according to the Ford government's budget delivered on Wednesday.
The budget highlights the importance of investing in highways, noting it is critical to keep people and goods moving while connecting communities and boost local economies.
The province has allocated more than $21 billion in funding over the next decade, including $2.6 billion in 2021-22 to expand and repair highways and bridges.
The Bradford Bypass was on the list of projects currently planned or underway across the province on page 105 of the 231-page document.
The 16.2-kilometre, four-lane highway will connect Highways 400 and 404. The province is advancing engineering and environmental assessment work that will allow for early works to begin as early as fall 2021.
The environmental assessment for the project is currently being updated, with approval expected by the end of December 2022.
"The province is following through on its promise to improve and invest in the province’s transportation corridors to get people moving within the region, connect people to jobs, make life easier and support a strong economy," said York-Simcoe MPP and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney.
"The County of Simcoe is expected to experience rapid growth over the next 10 years and investing in this new 16-kilometre freeway is needed to relieve congestion on existing east-west local roads and provide a northern freeway connection between Highway 400 and Highway 404," she said.
Bradford Ward 2 Councillor Jonathan Scott welcomed the news about the plans for the highway.
"The growth that has already occurred in upper York Region and South Simcoe County requires this link so that commuters can get home from work, farmers can get their goods to market so that our region can be open for businesses."
He also believes the planned highway will help bring life to the town's downtown core.
"The bypass will allow us to pedestrianize and revitalize our downtown Holland Street," he said. "It's been a pleasure to work with our MPP's team to advance this vital project, and seeing a timeline for early works shows the momentum behind this project."
"I'm also seeking to ensure the bypass can be a catalyst for opening up our riverfront for recreation, with trails and other measures that will protect the forests and wetlands north and south of the new highway."